Kevin McNulty in Stupid F***ing Bird
Photo: Emily Cooper

The Cultch and The Search Party
Stupid F*cking Bird by Aaron Posner

When & Where April 12-23, 2023, 7.30pm evenings, Sat & Sun matinees at 2pm | Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables St., Vancouver

Director Mindy Parfitt Original Music James Sugg Costume Design Jessica Oostergo Set Design Amir Ofek Lighting Design Itai Erdal Sound Design Owen Belton Musical Direction Anton Lipovetsky
Cast Nathan Kay, Anton Lipovetsky, Jesse Lipscombe, Kevin McNulty, Baraka Rahmani, Kerry Sandomirsky and Emma Slipp

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

Aaron Posner, American playwright, has a large collection of adaptations of classical works. One of these is Stupid F*cking Bird which premiered in Washington DC on May 31, 2013. It received positive reviews and has been acknowledged as a successful adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull.

Mindy Parfitt, founder of The Search Party and director of The Cultch’s current production, Stupid F*cking Bird is committed to bringing emotionally charged theatre to Vancouver’s smaller stages. Parfitt surpassed this goal on the opening night of Stupid F*cking Bird.

With a cast whose bios show very strong theatrical credits, Parfitt brought to the stage powerful, emotional performances.The script is well delivered, the actors evoking a deep sense of emotional involvement from the audience. It is a triumph when the director and actors deliver to the audience a belief that the characters on stage are real. Parfitt along with her cast did just that.

Nathan Kay, playing Conrad, Anton Lipovetsky (Dev), Jesse Lipscombe (Trigorin), Kevin McNulty (Sorn), Baraka Rahmani (Nina), Kerry Sandomirsky (Emma) and Emma Slipp (Mash) created powerful scenes. They created a sense of belief in the interpersonal relationships of the characters.

Exploring the historic problems in interpersonal relations that have been examined for centuries, in this case by Chekhov, the angst of navel gazing was overtly prominent in the script. The script questions how generational differences in opinion or differing stages in a life’s journey colours the conflict the characters experience.

The set itself was cleverly used with characters either in shadow when not in the scene or under stage lights when in scene representing the influence those in our lives have over us even when they are not physically present. Throughout the production the actors interacted with the audience, bringing them out of the shadow and into the dialogue of the play, breaking the fourth wall as it is known in the world of theatre. The obitquitous “F” word is sprinkled liberally throughout the script as a means to comtemporize Chekhov’s The Seagull.

The subject matter in Stupid F*cking Bird does not leave one with an uplifted heart but it is well crafted theatre. It is theatre telling a story that still needs to be explored especially in a way that is relevant to today’s theatre goer. It definitely reached the audience on opening night.

© 2023 Nancie Ottem