By Aaron Posner (Stupid F*cking Bird)
Sort-of-adapted from Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Brian Katz
In this brash reworking of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a group of old friends, ex-lovers, estranged in-laws, and lifelong enemies gather to grapple with life’s thorniest questions—and each other. What could possibly go wrong? Incurably lustful and lonely, hapless and hopeful, these seven souls collide and stumble their way towards a new understanding that Life Sucks! Or does it?
Posner’s follow-up to his Stupid F*cking Bird (seen at SF Playhouse) is Mel Brooks meets Chekhov: lowbrow, dirty, passionate, and unexpectedly tender.
Linda Ayres-Frederick*^ – Babs
Gabriel Montoya – Aster
Jensen Power – Sonia
Brittany Sims – Pickles
Evan Sokol – Vanya
Emily Stone – Ella
Dave Sikula^ – Professor
* member, Actors Equity Association
^ member, Custom Made Theatre Co.
Bay Area Premiere
May 2 – June 1
“(A) light-hearted and ultimately life-affirming examination of what might be called depression as an existential condition… amusingly updates Uncle Vanya.” – SF Examiner
“Tragic and funny in subtle and sardonic ways.” –Talkin’ Broadway
“Life Sucks entertains and has literary and artistic merit. It renders Chekhov less distant and stuffy. The Brian Katz directed staging is well crafted, and the actors portray their characters with great aplomb.” –ForAllEvents
“Thoroughly entertaining from the moment it starts. Very gifted actors and rich in content. Absolutely loved it and would highly recommend (it) before it ends.” -Patron Review
Meet the Cast!
Linda Ayres-Frederick (Babs in “Life Sucks”) was last seen at Custom Made as Alice in “Rapture, Blister, Burn” after receiving a nomination for Outstanding Achievement in a major role as Woman in CM’s “The Play About the Baby” that was awarded Best Production by SFBATCC. Other favorites among the plus 50 roles she has performed include: Edna in “The Oldest Profession” (SFBATCC Best Ensemble nomination), Ana in “The Clean House”, Helen in “The Road to Mecca”, Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Blanche in “Streetcar Named Desire”, Lady Torrance in “Orpheus Descending” (SFBATCC Best Actor nomination) and Woman in “Laughing Wild”. Since 1985, Linda has served as Phoenix Theatre’s Artistic Director and has enjoyed a rewarding career as an actor, director, producer, critic and playwright. Twice granted the Shubert Playwriting Fellowship, Linda’s plays have received over 20 productions in NYC, San Francisco, Edinburgh, France and Alaska. A member of the Custom Made Board, she is also a 3Girls Theatre playwright in residence, Vice-President of SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, member of American Theatre Critics Association, Monday Night Playwrights, the Dramatists Guild, AEA, and AFTRA/SAG. Her play “The MAV Mum Murder” will be read at 3Girls Salon Reading March 3, 2019. www.phoenixtheatresf.org. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, Linda lives in the Mission District with her life partner.
Gabriel Montoya (Aster in “Life Sucks”) is a San Francisco-based actor-writer-director. He has appeared at Custom Made Theatre Co in last season’s “Good. Better. Best. Bested” by Jonathon Spector. He has performed elsewhere in the Bay Area at SF Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, Brava Theater, SF Shakespeare on Tour, Beverly Hills Playhouse SF, Theater Madcap and in the original cast of “The Speakeasy.” Gabriel and his wife Robin’s production house, The Department of Badassery, made theatre history in 2015 with the simultaneous world premiere of Ben Fisher’s “Don’t Be Evil” onstage at Pianofight and in virtual reality. Gabriel also co-hosts a podcast about the sport of boxing called Leave it In the Ring.
Jensen Power (Sonia in “Life Sucks”) is thrilled to be making a Custom Made Theatre Co. debut! Recent roles include Terri in “Oedipus at Palm Springs” (Theater Rhinoceros), the Duke/Duchess in “Orlando” (American Conservatory Theater’s Fellowship performance), and understudying Connie and Dr. Lorna James in “The Effect” (San Francisco Playhouse). Jensen earned her BA from St. Olaf College and is originally from Kansas City. She is proud and grateful to be a part of this production.
Dave Sikula (Professor in “Life Sucks”) has just returned from reprising his role as Samuel Beckett in the New York revival of the critically-acclaimed Sam and Dede. Previous roles at Custom Made include Col. Bouvier/Norman Vincent Peale (Grey Gardens), Narrator (Slaughterhouse Five), Reverend Tollhouse (Book of Liz), Dr. Marshall Boyle (Prelude to a Kiss) and Max Tarasov (Superior Donuts). Other roles: Tom (The Speakeasy), Alexander Andrews (The Walls of Jericho) Eugene Druilliard (Disappearance of Mary Rosemary), Edna Turnblad (Hairspray), Lawrence Jameson (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), the title roles in Uncle Vanya and Bullshot Crummond, Boris Trigorin (The Sea Gull), Hildy Johnson (The Front Page), J. Carlyle Benson (Boy Meets Girl), John (Oleanna), Mike Connor (The Philadelphia Story),Victor Prynne (Private Lives), Charles J. Guiteau (Assassins), Moonface Martin (Anything Goes), Artie Shaughnessey (The House of Blue Leaves), Pompey (Measure for Measure), and Oronte (The Misanthrope). Love to Pidge.
Evan Sokol (Vanya in “Life Sucks”) is thrilled to be making his debut at The Custom Made Theatre. Other regional credits include “The Unveiling” (Phoenix Theatre), “Beyond Therapy” (Shelton Theatre), “The Woolgatherer” (Shelton Theatre), “Run for your Wife” (Coastal Rep), “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” (Douglas Morrisson Theatre), “The Odd Couple” (Hillbarn Theatre), “When the Rain Stops Falling” (Dragon Theatre), and “Tartuffe” (Generations Theatre). Evan is a Massachusetts native who moved to the Bay Area in 1992. He currently lives in Pacifica with his amazing wife Michelle and their dog Cliff.