Trigger Warning: this piece contains mentions of attempted suicide.
“The play will start when someone says ‘Start the f — g play,’” said Con, the main character of Stupid F***ing Bird. The play, a comedic approach to Chekhov’s The Seagull, opened on Thursday, Nov. 29, ran until Sunday, Dec. 2 in the Ruth B. Shannon Center, and was directed by Katie Liddicoat, With the stage sectioned off for a smaller and more intimate setting, the audience was able to connect with — and even talk to — the actors throughout the play.
The play begins with couple Mash and Dev as they stand by a lake, arguing about who has the worse life. The disagreement results in the break-up of the couple, and Dev exits the stage. Mash then pulls out her ukelele, and sings about the meaning, or lack thereof, of life — a theme that will continue throughout the play.
Con has always dreamed of writing plays, and wants to have his girlfriend Nina act in them. Con has additional nerves about the debut of his play, as his successful actress mother, Emma, is coming to watch, bringing her popular author boyfriend Doyle. When Emma learns the play was not actually a joke, she takes offense to the waste of her time. Con begins to think he will never be successful and angrily rushes off stage, while Doyle reassures Nina that she is a talented actress.
After this interaction, Nina begins to fall for Doyle, causing Con to question his worth as a writer, a boyfriend, and a human being. It does not help that Mash is in love with Con, a love she knows will never be reciprocated. After a scene where each character is simultaneously shouting what they want, Con runs off stage, yelling, “I want it all to stop!”A gunshot follows his exit. The play then breaks for an intermission, leaving the audience wondering about Con’s condition.
When the play resumes, it is revealed that Con unsuccessfully attempted suicide, and is recovering at home. It is there, during a heated argument, that he tells his mother he believes Nina and Doyle are having an emotional affair, and that Nina does not love him anymore. Emma dismisses the accusations, and Con exits the stage. Emma’s brother, Eugene, enters to give his sister reassurance on Con’s mental state. After she exits, Eugene breaks the fourth wall to admit to the audience that he, too, is depressed, and struggles with finding a reason to carry on. After he exits, Doyle enters the kitchen setting, only for Nina follow him soon after. Nina tells Doyle she can’t sleep due to wanting to be with him, and the two begin to kiss. Emma catches them in the act and bans Nina from her house. Forgiving Doyle, the two exit the stage together.
The closing act takes place four years later, as Mash and Dev sing a more upbeat song about life, and reveal that they have since gotten married and have three kids. Nina and Doyle started dating and had a child, who died a couple weeks after birth. Doyle then left Nina to go back to Emma, and Nina’s mental health sharply declined. Con, unable to cope with Nina leaving him for Doyle and his mother taking Doyle back after infidelity, developed a drinking problem, and his suicidal thoughts reemerged. The characters then tell the audience how and when they died, with Mash getting hit by a drunk driver, and Emma dying on her ninetieth birthday. Con states that this is the part of the play where he kills himself. He then decides that he wants to rewrite this so he lives, and yells, “Stop the f — g play!” — signalling the end of the show.