The big winner this week in theater awards for 2014 in Los Angeles was a Russian playwright who's been dead for over a century.
Well, not exactly, but writer Aaron Posner's brilliantly free adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull did win the L.A. Drama Critics Circle awards for best ensemble, direction, and writing. It's just spectacular, and won countless raves from critics, but maybe the best "review" is an inspired look at Chekhov and his six major characters, in their (imagined) words, from writer Adam Silver in the Examiner,
Anton Chekov: One day I got shat on by a seagull. I f**king said "Stupid f**king bird" and murdered a gull in a play.
Aaron Posner: One day I was reading Chekov. I f**king decided to adapt "The Seagull" into a comedy where people would actually laugh and could use words that people couldn't use on stage in a pre-George Carlin 1895. My life isn't bound by tradition. I could change the names of the characters as you'll see below.
Emma Arkadiana is first and foremost a famous actress: One day I got old. I f**king hate anything that reveals my age. My life is so desperate. I could forgive my lover's many infidelities as long as they are with talentless wanna-bes.
Conrad Arkadina, the twenty-something son of famous actress Emma Arkadina, the main character: One day I was too old for my wanna-be forever young mother. I f**king became an albatross dragging my mother into middle-age. My life is so depressing I could kill myself, twice.
Dr. Eugene Sorn, the older or younger brother of Emma Arkadina, is alone in life: One day, after years of basking in reflective adulation, I was too old to be Emma's brother. I f**king no longer lived in her shadow but threatened to darken her days. My life is empty. I could fade into anonymity.
Doyle Trigorin is talented enough to be a golden boy facing his mid-life crisis with assorted short-lived liaisons with young untalented ladies: My life is so boring I could use some melodrama and adulation-laced sex. One day I could no longer stand Nina's clinging talentless body. I f**king needed to be with someone who actually understood artistry and was too old to leave me.
Nina Zachery the childhood friend and beloved of Conrad wants to be an actress like Emma: My life is messed up. I could act regretful if I could act at all. One day I ran away with the lover of my neighbor and had a baby who died prematurely. One day I will be too old to be eye candy on stage. I f**king made my unhappiness.
Mash Amberson works for the Arkadinas: My life is depressing I could dress in black every day because I'm in mourning for my life and it makes me look thinner. One day I could no longer wait for Conrad to return my love so I f**king settled for dependable Dev."
Dev Dylan longs for Mash's love: My life is so humble, I could eat pie. One day I got married to the one I loved. I f**king am the only one with a happy ending.
One day I went to the Theatre@Boston Court to see "Stupid F**king Bird," an adaptation of Anton Chekov's curious comedy "The Seagull." I f**king finally laughed out loud and found the comedy in this classic, that now includes references to Cirque du Soleil and smoothies. This is in large part due to Michael Michetti's crisp direction. In comedy, timing is everything and this ensemble cast gets is right with every nod, wink, stare and pregnant pause. Posner's adaptation doesn't just tweak by adding in some modern day references and plenty of swear words and punch up the sexual content with full frontal nudity--male and female, it also breaks the fourth wall and plunges into the potentially dangerous territory of asking for audience commentary, taking time for small impromptu, unscripted conversations.
And yes, let me say It's just great -- more than great, it's unforgettable. Hope to see it again some day, though I doubt it could possibly be better produced than it was at the Theater@BostonCourt in Pasadena.
Here's a picture that gives some idea of its stand and deliver nature -- a little: