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Stupid F***ing Bird On Stage at COS

IN THE March 11 ISSUE

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by Lorie Lewis Ham

Editor’s note: This show has been postponed due to the corona virus.

Stupid F***ing Bird opened this past weekend at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia produced by their performing arts department. The play is a contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, written by American playwright Aaron Posner.

Stupid F***ing Bird first premiered in 2013 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. According to the company’s Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz, “the play takes a satirical spin on a theatrical classic, but has the essence of Chekhov’s original intent for the piece—what it means to create art.”

The story follows the life of Conrad (William Huffaker) who is a struggling playwright trying to write a new play—but not just any new play, one that is different from regular theatre. Conrad’s play features his girlfriend and struggling actress Nina (Natalie Ezelle), who wants so desperately to be famous. He tries to present the play in his mother’s backyard for his two best friends, Dev (Andrew Maximino Martinez) and Mash (Brooke Rogers); his overbearing and egotistical mother Emma (Diane Fidalgo) who is a famous actress; his mother’s new lover Trigorin (Michael Seitz) who is a famous novelist and has a wandering eye; and his mild mannered uncle Eugene (Robert Langarica).

Conrad (William Huffaker) and Nina (Natalie Ezelle)

This play is filled with drama, tragedy, betrayal, obsession, and unrequited love. It is performed in three acts and each act features a different color scheme reflected in the characters costumes. The first act is done in mostly black and the set pieces consist of each character having their own black box, which also holds their props. Act 2 is done in all white. Act 3 is mostly shades of grey. While the story is very dark for the most part, there is a lot of comedy in it and a lot of breaking of the fourth wall, which was a lot of fun. Many of the characters in this story are very intense and emotional, and much is done with monologues. Typically, I single out specific performances that catch my attention, but in this case the entire cast was absolutely amazing, taking the audience along with them on this roller coaster ride of emotions. The simplicity of most of the sets and costumes helped set the mood for each act, and the fact that it is done in the round drew you right into the story and provided an intimacy to the show you couldn’t have had otherwise. My favorite line of the play, because it is so relatable, is said by Conrad when talking about his love for Nina, “Haven’t you ever not been able to not?”

Conrad (William Huffaker) and his mother Emma (Diane Fidalgo)

Director Chris Mangels has put together an incredible show that you will not want to miss! Stupid F***ing Bird is on stage again this weekend through March 15 at COS, 915 S Mooney Blvd, Visalia, California. Tickets can be purchased online and since it is limited seating I would highly recommend doing that. Stupid F***ing Bird is intended for mature audiences and does include suicide for anyone who might be triggered by that.

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors–many of whom were mentioned in this article. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, and also on Podbean. A new episode went up this week!

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.

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