May 31 2016 05:45 PM

Cygnet Theatre production flips mainstream the bird

Bo Roddie and Rachel Esther Tate in Stupid Fucking Bird
Photo by Daren Scott

Aaron Posner's Stupid Fucking Bird, an "adaptation" of Anton Chekhov's bold but turgid play, The Seagull, tries really fucking hard to deconstruct its 19th-century predecessor as subversively as possible. Exhaustive as this dramaturgical effort may be, it does result in an often very funny, choleric take on relationships and the pedestrian nature of popular theater. That none of its characters is particularly worth our compassion jibes with the play's anarchic nature. Cygnet Theatre's production directed by Rob Lufty embraces the anarchy, with characters shouting back and forth with or addressing the audience, and dares to let its principals be unlikable. It's hard to dislike Jacque Wilke, however, as the beyond-cynical, ukulele-strumming Mash, and Ro Boddie's Con is so angry and self-indulgent that you almost admire him for it. You certainly can admire Boddie's kinetic performance.

SFB's execution—the cast's choreography with chairs, the offbeat musical asides, the various play-within-a-play devices—outweigh the value of the story's interconnected scenarios of unrequited or misguided love, as well as all the Chekhov nods. In other words, its flouting of theatrical propriety is its primary appeal.

Stupid Fucking Bird runs through June 19 at the Old Town Theatre. $36 and up.

Jesus Christ Superstar was never as satisfying a stage musical as it was a rock opera—the one that featured Deep Purple's Ian Gillan as JC and Yvonne Elliman as Mary Mags. But approaching a half-century after its debut, its music (by Andrew Lloyd Webber; Tim Rice penned the lyrics) remains thrilling. A new production at the Welk in Escondido is a rousing reminder. Kyle Short (as a very tall Jesus) and Dominique Petit Frere (as a manic Judas) front this high-energy staging directed and nearly over-choreographed by Ray Limon. The sheer joy of a rock opera, of course, is that there is no stilted dialogue in between songs, and JC Superstar is no exception. You can enjoy (through Aug. 7) the Welk's hilariously over-the-top "Herod's Song," the frenetic temple scenes, and the stark, disturbing ending without intermittent babble.

Jesus Christ Superstar runs through Aug. 7 at the Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. $48 and up.


Hedda Gabler: A world premiere translation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic tale of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Translated by Anne-Charlotte Harvey, it opens June 1 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.

Gridlock: A world premier comedy about three strangers who meet during some particularly bad traffic. Written by Salomon Maya, it opens for three performances June 4 at San Diego Repertory Theatre in Downtown.

Golda’s Balcony: A one-woman show about Golda Meir, a Russian immigrant who went on to become Israel’s first female prime minister. Part of the San Diego Jewish Arts Festival, it opens June 5 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad.

Love, Loss and What I Wore: A one-night-only performance of monologues and ensemble pieces about women and the clothes that make up memories. Written by Nora and Delia Ephron, it happens June 6 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.

Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education: Anna Deavere Smith performs theatrical portraits based on interviews she conducted examining “the school-to-prison pipeline.” Presented by the National Conflict Resolution Center, it happens June 6 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

Our American Hamlet: A staged reading of Jake Broder’s play about Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes, who staged a performance of Hamlet on Broadway shortly after Lincoln’s assassination. Part of the New Works Reading Series, it happens June 7 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.

Now Playing:

Evita: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lavish musical about Eva Peron’s rise from the slums of Argentina to the country’s first lady. Directed by Jessica Brandon, it runs through June 4 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

Clybourne Park: The Tony and Pulitzer-winning dramedy is set in the same house in a neighborhood of Chicago over two different time periods, and deals in themes of racism and gentrification. Written by Bruce Norris, it runs through June 5 at the Patio Playhouse in Escondido.

Bedside Manners: A lighthearted British farce about a regular guy who agrees to look after his sister’s seedy country hotel. It runs through June 5 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Escondido.

Newsies: Disney’s smash Broadway musical about the Newsboys Strike of 1899. Presented by Broadway San Diego, it runs through June 5 at the Civic Theatre in the Gaslamp Quarter.

They Don’t Talk Back: A troubled teen is forced to move in with his grandparents in a small Native Alaskan fishing village. Presented by Native Voices at the Autry, it runs through June 5 at the La Jolla Playhouse.

The Boy Who Danced on Air: A new musical drama about the Afghani cultural practice of bacha bazi, where older men engage and often buy boys as young as nine-years-old to train them and “keep” them. It runs through June 12 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest.

Chapter Two: The classic Neil Simon play about a writer and widower attempting, rather hilariously, to find love again. It runs through June 12 at the Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa.

Hollywood: Set in the ‘20s, his world premiere noir thriller is based on the true story of the unsolved murder of director William Desmond Taylor. Written by Joe DiPietro, it runs through June 12 at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Camp David: This new play centers on the 1978 Middle East peace talks between Israel and Egypt and of which the legacy is still felt today. Written by Pulitzer-winner Lawrence Wright, it runs through June 19 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

Stupid Fucking Bird: Young artistic types struggle in Aaron Posner’s irreverent take on Chekhov’s The Seagull. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens May 18 at the Old Town Theatre.

Woody Guthrie’s American Song: An ensemble musical based on the life of the revered American folk singer and songwriter behind classics like “This Land is Your Land” and “Bound for Glory.” Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through June 19 at the Horton Grand Theatre in Downtown.

Murder at the Howard Johnsons: A suspenseful comedy in three scenes about a love triangle gone wrong. It runs through June 26 at the Legler Benbough Theatre in Scripps Ranch.

Sordid Lives: When the elderly matriarch dies, a family must sort through their issues or risk embarrassing themselves at the funeral. Written by Del Shores, it rund through June 26 at the Coronado Playhouse.

tokyo fish story: When flashier restaurants start cutting into business, an old-school sushi chef must make some changes with help from his protégé. Written by Kimber Lee, it runs through June 26 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.


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