Where are you right now? In a dorm trying to occupy your time before doing homework? In the den late at night eating mozzarella sticks and wondering what this play was about? At the very least, we are here, right now, together, right? Well, being present and aware of what’s going on around you as well as inside your mind is what Stupid Fucking Bird tries to convey. Stupid Fucking Bird aims to be a new play, a play that hasn’t been done before. Or at least that’s what Con wants. Con is the protagonist played by the impeccable Max Younger ‘22 who is a struggling playwright who wants to write a play that’s real. He wants to protect and help his lover Nina, Sukanya Shukla ‘20, who is a budding actress. Emma, Con’s mother, played by Stine Carrol ‘20 is an aging actress who has a younger lover named Trigorin, Matthew Engles ‘20. who is known for being a genius writer of the generation. Dev and Mash, David Garcia ‘20 and Becca Kraft ‘20 respectively, are Cons’ good friends. Mash has been in love with Con for years, and Dev has been in love with Mash. The last member of this group Sorn is, Emma’s brother played by Kirk Read who is an aging doctor who feels that he does not get to say much when talking with these characters, though it is revealed that he does have a lot to.
We start with a scene by a lake, Conrad is showing his new play starring Nina to the character. The play that is presented is cringlingly good.The awkwardness is perfectly created by Nina as she repeats the play’s name “Here We Are” over and over again which is only heightened with the strange lighting and sound that comes with it. Emma, voices her disapproval for the play which causes Conrad to run off stage. Trig, however, tells Nina that he thought she was good in the play. As the play progresses we watch as Conrad begins to notice how Nina has taken a liking to Trig, which is confirmed in a soliloquy by Nina stating how she has been slightly obsessed with him since she was young. Nina and Trig attempt to consummate their lust for each other when they are interrupted by Emma. Trig asks Emma to let him go, however, refuses to do so as she is the only one that truly knows and understands him. As the love sick characters lament. Sorin and Dev come to be the voices of wisdom in this play. Garcia draws the audience in with his down-to-earth voice making him have a candid and perfectly ordinary personality. Sorin notices how the younger people act in the play when they are struggling with these feelings. Read plays this well as he describes his aging story with an enticing tone to it. However, Sorin never got to talk about these feeling. Sorin even questions the characters of Mash, Dev, Nina, and Con as they are in the midst of struggling with their love and wonders if they even feel what they say they feel. They don’t reply. Four years after the incident between Nina and Trig. Dev reveals that Trig and Nina were together for a bit. Nina became famous in shows and movies that Trig wrote and even had a child that died days later. Emma continued to make movies and got back together with Trig. Dev and Mash got married and had a few kids. And Con is still struggling, but not at playwrighting as he has a new play opening soon, titled none other than “Stupid Fucking Bird.” As a birthday party for Sorin plays out, Con admits that he doesn’t care about his play, all he cares about is that Nina hasn’t visited him. Seconds into his aside, Nina comes and relays how she knows that she isn’t a good actress and that she treated Con viscous. But, Con doesn’t care for all that and only wants to take care of Nina. She refuses. The end of the play relays to the audience what happens to the characters after the play’s quote-unquote end. Some even explain how and when they die. Con then runs on stage with a gun and tells the audience about the original with a bang from a gun. It explicitly shows that he could very well end his life and the play right there. But he doesn’t. Instead, Con utters the final lines “Stop the fucking play.”
The realness in this play comes in many forms. One being the actors. Younger is able to draw the audience in with his voice control. The inflections and tiny hesitations he does in his speech shows how broken and fragile his character is. Carrol gave a moving performance of a woman who has just been misunderstood her whole life. She creates a tension that is not only present in her voice, but also her ability to make her character both easy to hate and easy to feel sorry for. Engles balances his character well as the self absorbed, self-confident writer who ,at one point, wasn’t all that. His ability to switch quickly between these two sides presented his character as more complicated than first seems. Garcia and Kraft were brilliant as the sense of comic relief in this play as scenes between them and their soliquoys showed a refreshing take on love. Shukla is able to go between comedy and drama in the play beautifully, which, even though her character doesn’t think she is, shows how talented she is. And Read, well his ability to be a father-type figure in the play succeeds as scenes with him in it calmed me and in a way told me that things would work out in the play.
Yet, this play wouldn’t work without the incredible dedication that went on behind the scenes, the set, lighting, and sound design of this production made this play immersive.
Stupid Fucking Bird wanted to be a new play. Something that is more than just people pretending. It knows what it is. And yet, from the people who made the sets, to the people backstage, and all the way to the actors themselves, I believe succeeded in what this play’s ultimate purpose was. It felt real.