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Three years ago, Eugene’s Suzi Steffen had this to say on Oregon Arts Watch about Libby Appel’s production of ‘The Seagull’ at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland:

No one’s happy. The young people have no money and little hope. The middle-aged people need the young ones but treat them badly. Everyone’s in love with someone who’s not in love with them.

That’s as good a description of Anton Chekhov’s classic family drama as you’re likely to find anywhere.

Now comes Aaron Posner’s meta-Chekhov/contemporary drama that opened tonight at Oregon Contemporary Theatre, ‘Stupid Fucking Bird.’

Posner, a Eugene native, has taken the original classic and spun it into a wild and self-referential future. Chekhov’s original characters not only can’t find love — at least not with the right person — but they talk endlessly about their angst.

That Posner pulls this off not only entertainingly but, at times, even movingly is a tribute to his writing skills. (The play, making its Northwest premiere at OCT, is one of the most frequently produced shows nationally of the past few years.)

‘Stupid Fucking Bird,’ which runs at OCT through October 3, is tightly directed by Craig Willis. It features a strong cast in all seven roles, led by young Joseph Workman, a drama major at Oregon State University, as Con.

Bary Shaw has found his mettle as the shambling Sorn, the cynical doctor. Amy Jones is a harsh but engaging Mash. Roxanne Fox works hard as Nina, and mostly delivers, and Tinamarie Ivey is solid as Emma.

The show plays out on a simple set by Michael Walker.

Posner clearly had a good time with ‘Bird.’ His characters — much like those of another Oregon playright, Jeff Whitty, in ‘The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler’ — are not only aware of themselves as fictional figures but address the audience about their problems. One of the best scenes of the play is when Workman, as Con, interrogates the audience, at length, about how he should handle his romantic frustrations.

Go see this one. It’s a clear winner.

 

 

 

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