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Review: Stupid Fucking Bird

Arty Pants
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I was a little shocked when I got to my seat in the Woolly Mammoth theater and realized that I was sitting in the very center in the first row. The stage was at my chin, and I was looking up at the actors, actually in their line of spit and sweat.

But perhaps it was that proximity to the passion that moved me. Or perhaps it was the story itself. Whatever it was, it was the best play I’ve seen at the Woolly in a long while.

Photo by Stan Barouh.
Photo by Stan Barouh.

This quirky little theater—at which I have attended nearly every show, each season since I moved here in 2009—has grown up quite a bit in the last few years. And Stupid Fucking Bird, which sounds like the title of just another ridiculous Woolly play (there have been many), is actually breaking through with brilliance.

This is the second time the Woolly has put on this production. After its ridiculous success last year, they said, why not, let’s do it again! The original company reconvened, and now they’re poised to sell out every seat from now until the end of its run (August 17, people).

The story is actually a remix of Chekhov’s The Seagull, adjusted to a contemporary tale. Playwright Aaron Posner weaves the different generations of characters together in a fast-moving, fast-talking, and occasionally singing web of art, love, and time.

Photo by Stan Barouh.
Photo by Stan Barouh.

It’s a circle of love affairs gone wrong: a young playwright, who rebels against his actress mother, who is sleeping with another artist, who is lusting after the playwright’s girlfriend. That playwright is played by Brad Koed, who is simply phenomenal—bouncing from anguish to love to suicidal to euphoria to … well, you’ll have to see.

In fact, there’s one brilliant scene where all the actors are sitting alongside one another in chairs, staring out into the audience, with ridiculous verbal diarrhea that, eventually, comes to a collective question: What does it all mean? Or rather, why the stupid fucking bird, after all?

Photo by Stan Barouh.
Photo by Stan Barouh.

There’s just something about the way this show fills the theatre, combining appeals to all the senses—actors’ voices and echoes, the changing dynamics of the set, even the whiff of smoking tobacco—it made for a very intimate performance.

But maybe that’s just because I was front and center.

The play is irreverent, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and most certainly not to be missed. Tickets are only $35, so make it a date night.

Photo by Stan Barouh.
Photo by Stan Barouh.

Stupid Fucking Bird
Until August 17.
Get tickets here.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.
641 D St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

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