Stupid F*cking Bird understands what theatre still has to offer in the age of Netflix. From the opening request for a raucous sweary shout to multiple fourth wall breaks, improv back and forths with the audience, and a reminder that “you know we can see you, right?”, Stupid F*cking Bird fearlessly foregrounds the audience experience and leaves passive content consumption in the trash. You are here, in this theatre together, and this show revels in never letting you forget it.
Whether you’re familiar with Chekhov’s The Seagull or not, Stupid F*cking Bird grabs you by the hand and leads you into the darkness of modern angst, unfulfilled desire, and crushed dreams. But don’t worry; it’s still a comedy.
Conrad, a brilliant Nathan Kay in a truly standout performance, is struggling. Living in the shadow of his superstar mother, the forcefully compelling Kerry Sandomirsky, is bad enough, but his lover is in love with an indisputable genius while his own work falls forever short.
His best friend, a dorkily affable Anton Lipovetsky, tries to offer support, despite his own crush, the sardonically scene-stealing Emma Slipp, being in love with his best friend. As Kevin McNulty’s Sorn drily puts it, “so many feelings.”
But those feelings are leveraged and enhanced by tearing through the fourth wall and engaging directly with the audience. The buy-in is palpable as the audience chats back, offers suggestions, and is chided in return. The energy has changed. The audience moves forward. No one leans back.
This is peak theatre. Stupid F*cking Bird puts the entertainment back in art and does both with ease, style and a f*ck ton of attitude. It is a treat that shouldn’t be denied. Go see it. Take someone who spends too much time in front of a screen. Go and remember what makes theatre worth experiencing.
Stupid F*cking Bird, written by Aaron Posner and sort of adapted from The Seagull by Anton Chekhov. Directed by Mindy Parfitt. A The Search Party production. On stage at The Cultch (1895 Venables St, Vancouver) until April 23. Visit thecultch.com for tickets and more information.