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This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.

Okay, stop what you're doing . . . and go get tickets for the production of "Stupid Fucking Bird" at the Theatre at Boston Court.

No, really, unless you're driving or already reading Chekhov, or kissing the love of your life - you need to pause and go get seats for this co-production from Boston Court and Circle X.

"Stupid Fucking Bird" is playwright Aaron Posner's inspired modern take on Chekhov's "The Seagull."

Now, for me, the pitfall in "The Seagull" has always been Konstantin. You remember Konstantin? He's the troubled young playwright battling with a couple of Oedipal issues. His mother, the famous actress, has returned home with her lover, the genius writer Trigorin. This throws everything out of whack because Konstantin is not only jealous, he's also threatened because his love, the young aspiring actress, Nina - has more than a little crush on Trigorin.

The challenge with Konstantin is he's usually played as a whiny, needy, man-child - which in many ways he is - but typically he's so annoying - you have next to no sympathy for him. The play opens with a performance of his new play - which is supposed to be some radically new form of theater but in most productions is usually presented as an amateur farce. So from the get go - you don't believe in Konstantin and you don't believe in his art.

Now, there's a lot to cherish in "Stupid Fucking Bird" but most striking is the revival of Konstantin - or in this modern take Connie. To be sure, he's still needy and he's still got mommy issues but he's believable and deeply sympathetic. Part of that is the work of Will Bradley who plays Connie as a fiercely kinetic ball of pent up needs and desires who's tortured by the world's course. You believe that he's an artist who's actually trying to make a difference. And that makes a difference because when he talks of 'new forms' it doesn't ring hollow. Connie's play, sorry 'site-specific performance event' - that opens act one feels like the kind of theater you might see at RedCat - live video, audience interaction. Rather than dismissing it as adolescent - the production treats it like a young artist trying to find his voice in opposition to his mother. When you see it - you think, of course, that's what Chekhov was going for.

That's the sense throughout "Stupid Fucking Bird". Playwright Aaron Posner has made some significant changes to Chekhov's original: he's modernized it; he's boiled down the character list so we're left with a series of interlocking love triangles; and he's added meta-theatrical direct address that calls into question the very nature of the actors and characters - but through it all - I kept thinking - yeah, that's what Chekhov was going for. And like any great adaptation - it made me go back and re-read the original.

The reason you need to stop and buy tickets now - is it closes July 27th and the rest of this ensemble cast is remarkable. Throw in the fact that it's beautifully designed and crisply directed - really please don't miss this one - it's worth the trip to Pasadena.

"Stupid Fucking Bird" plays at the Theatre at Boston Court through July 27th.

This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.


Find Anthony's interview with Tim Wright, Artistic Director of Circle X, half of the co-production with Boston Court of "Stupid Fucking Bird" on the next Opening the Curtain.


Photo by Ed Krieger

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