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Theatre fans should flock to Chekhov's The Seagull



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 Seagull.

The play was first disappointingly staged in St Petersburg in 1896; two years later it was successfully staged by the Moscow Art Theater.

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
Starring:
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

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