Blank Chekhov: Posner runs wild in his Seagull adaptation.

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Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is up for a half-dozen Tony Awards this Sunday. It’s already won a raft of other honors and fancy notices for pulping the venerable canon of Anton Chekhov into an impudent paste. Woolly Mammoth’s world-premiere production of Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird does Durang one better, or maybe three or four worse: Posner’s confident Twitter-age remix is “sort of adapted” from just one Chekhov play. It’s…fuck. The one with, you know, the bird. The Seagull. That’s it.

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Even if you have only a casual, Wiki-deep familiarity with Chekhov, the sparkling company of top-tier actors director Howard Shalwitz has assembled makes this an accessible and unfailingly delightful jaunt into misery (or maybe we should say compromised happiness). Stupid Fucking Bird has enjoyed an unusually long development process, the better to let it pulse and flicker with the illusion of spontaneity. It’s absorbing in its every glance and revealing in its every sigh.

You’ve got real-life spouses Kate Eastwood-Norris and Cody Nickell (the Kate and Petruchio from Posner’s straight-shooting Taming of the Shrew at the Folger last year) playing a volatile couple again: the famous, ungracefully aging actress Emma and the successful author Doyle. You’ve got Rick Foucheux as the country doctor who stays up drinking gin after everyone else has gone to bed. You’ve got Kimberly Gilbert as Mash, plucking out pathetic hymns of heartbreak on her ukulele—lyrics by Posner, music by James Sugg, and yes, sure you’ve had it with beautiful, hilarious women playing ukuleles already, but it turns out Gilbert has been sitting on a lovely, haunted singing voice all these years. Shame!

What does it take to get you to go see a play, anyhow? Some top-drawer talent not-from-around-here? Brad Koed, the New York-based actor who anchors this thing as the dyspeptic young playwright Con (Konstatin in the Chekhov tale), is an effortlessly captivating young face with an old soul. He’s simply too lonely/angry to be a respecter of fourth walls. When he solicits the audience for advice on how to woo the indifferent Nina, who only has eyes for Doyle, it should feel gimmicky, but it doesn’t.

Con is obsessed with inventing a new theatrical form, so Misha Kachman’s set and Laree Lentz’s sharp costumes (Nickell, especially, sports some very smart suits) bespeak a new paradigm each time the action leaps ahead. (As in the original, all the seismic changes happen between acts.) Act 1 takes place beneath the gaze of a half-dozen serial prints of Chekhov’s face. Act 2 unfolds in a nicely appointed set of a kitchen—you know, where the sink is. Act 3, set at Sorn’s 60th birthday party some years later, looks like a high school gym after the kids have left the dance.

In his more familiar identity as a director, Posner is the most reliable theatermaker in town. He’s less well-known as a playwright, but Stupid Fucking Bird might flip that ratio. In its fidelity and its fearlessness, it recalls Gnit, Will Eno’s flippant update of Peer Gynt, which debuted at the Humana Festival of New America Plays this spring (and also, coincidentally, starred Eastwood-Norris). They’re both clear-eyed reconsiderations of towering 19th century works that glower down through the decades predigested—too irreproachable, we thought, to inspire any memorable acts of vandalism.

Well. Posner has compressed the number of acts and characters. His Nina (an astute Katie deBuys) is more aggressive than her 1895 counterpart, and everyone is more forthcoming, going so far as to sit in a row of folding chairs and tell us their desires instead of giving them away through subtext. That’s actually the most heretical thing Posner does. Sometimes rejection in the sincerest form of flattery.