Review by MG Olivares
LOVE can be such a complex emotion. In Chekhov’s play,
The Seagull at Greenwich Playhouse, relationships
between lovers, parent and child, friendships and self are explored.
These relationships are examined by looking at the life of an
actress and those that surround her. The setting is in the Russian
countryside beside a lake.
Arkadina is a middle aged actress whose son, Konstantin, has
just written a play starring Nina.
Konstantin is in love with Nina and yearns for his mother’s
love and respect as an artist, yet disapproves of her choice of
lover, Trigorin –a famed author.
His disapproval seems to be rooted in his jealousy of Trigorin
who dominates the little attention and respect Arkadina can spare
to anyone other than herself.
Arkadina spends most of her time in the city and summers by the
lake, at her brother Sorin’s farm, where Konstantine remains
most of the time.
Shamrayev, the farm manager, married to Polena and their daughter
to Masha, live on the grounds.
The physician, Dorn, is always at hand as well as Masha’s
admirer, the schoolmaster, Medviedenko.
Despite Medviedenko’s attention, Masha is critical towards
him and saddened over her undying love for Konstantine.
Through the play one can sense love
that is not reciprocated; one also feels intense internal conflict
within some characters.
The seagull is a dynamic symbolism throughout the play. Initially
being described as freedom and security by Nina, Trigorin later
refers to the dead seagull when describing how he will wreck Nina’s
life. The lake draws all the characters to reflect, to escape.
The performances are outstanding and draws one into the plot.
The staging of the playhouse allows for a very intimate ambience
and leads to the audience’s exposure to strong emotions
coming from the stage.
The set is simple and effective. Its simplicity allows one to
focus on the exchange rather than the set.
While Chekhov was a medicine student at Moscow University in
the late 1800s he wrote numerous comic short stories, some novels
and one act plays. He also wrote full-length dramas such as The
The play was first disappointingly staged in St Petersburg in
1896; two years later it was successfully staged by the Moscow
After seeing this play at Greenwich, it is easy to understand
why Chekhov is considered a great theatrical success….
The Seagull by Anton Chekhov at Greenwich Playhouse
Directed by Bruce Jamieson
Produced by Alice de Sousa
Matthew Brenher as Trigorin
Jan Bridgman as Arkadina
Emma Choy as Nina
Al Fiorentini as Sorin
Tom Golding as Konstantin
Michael Hucks as Dorn
Alexis Leighton as Polena
Emma Lucas as Masha
Philip Mansfield as Medviedenko
Phil Moyse as Shamrayev