Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Seagull"
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note: entire contents copyright 2014 by Sheila Barth


"The Seagull"
Soars at Huntington

A Review by Sheila Barth

A superlative cast of 13, Ralph Funicello’s lavish set, Robert Morgan’s stunning period costumes, and James F. Ingall’s dramatic lighting dominate the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Paul Schmidt’s popular translated version of Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece, “The Seagull”. 

Pleased to be reunited with renowned director Maria Aitken, star Kate Burton (Richard Burton’s daughter) and her son, Morgan Ritchie have returned to the Huntington after their sterling performances in “The Corn is Green,” and Burton unleashes her power again. Burton should look familiar to TV viewers, too, as Vice President Sally Langston in the popular series, “Scandal”. However, Boston’s own award-winning stars, Thomas Derrah, Nancy E; Carroll, Nael Nacer, Auden Thornton, and the supporting cast, add their perfectly timed humor, pathos, and drama to Chekhov’s symbolic-ridden play of interwoven, unrequited love and unrealized dreams.The play bombed in its original debut in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1896, but zoomed to fame two years later, In Moscow.

The versatile Derrah, portraying fading actress Irina Akadina’s (Kate Burton) sickly brother, Sorin, who’s bored with his serene, bucolic life and yearns for the vibrant city life, steals every scene he’s in, with his mischievous twinkle and marvelous acting.

  Nacer, who’s generally a dramatic showstopper, is pathetic, yet comedic as lovesick, timid, emasculated schoolteacher, Medevenko, who’s head over heels in love with dour, Debbie Downer-type Masha, (Meredith Holzman). Yet she repeatedly spurns him. Saying she’s in mourning for her life, black-garbed Masha only has eyes for Irina’s 25-year-old, suicidal, handsome, aspiring writer son, Konstantin, (Ritchie); but he’s deeply in love with his pretty country neighbor ingenue, Nina, whom Thornton portrays with charming naivete.

Konstantin and his mother, Irina, love each other, but are ideologically at odds, and bicker repeatedly. She prefers the classical, theatrical style that won her fame and fortune, (which is dwindling), while Konstantin fervently touts the “new” style of stage and writing.

Irina and her younger, 43-year-old lover-successful writer, Trigorin, are visiting her brother Sorin and Konstantin at Sorin’s lakeside country estate. And Konstantin deeply resents Trigorin, whom Broadway actor Ted Koch cleverly portrays with understated, wily, egotism. 

During the play, its plot and intricacies of unrequited love become stickier. While Masha deeply desires Konstantin, and Medevenko is deeply in love with her, Masha’s prim mother, Paulina (marvelous Nancy E. Carroll), can’t stand her boorish estate manager-husband, Ilya (Don Sparks), but pines away for refined, well-traveled doctor, Yevgeny Dorn, whom Marc Vietor nicely portrays with a dismissive matter-of-fact demeanor.

During an outdoor, makeshift presentation of Konstantin’s outdoor play-within-a-play, starring only Nina, (whose parents have forbade her to tarry with this group of “Bohemian” neighbors), Irina mocks it. When Konstantin objects to her criticism, Irina says he’s selfish and spoiled. She objects to his petulance and new form, calling it faux intelligence.

Trigorin knows he has Irina wrapped around his baby finger, but he enchants the infatuated Nina into leaving home for Moscow, to meet him there, and audition as an actress. During a stunning scene, Irina shamefully begs and pleads with Trigorin to not leave her.

In Act II, Konstantin’s jealousy and anger about losing Nina, spurs him to write successfully, but he’s still morose, his fate and Nina’s steeped in sadness. The play ends abruptly, with a bang.

Kudos to Aitken, who didn’t encourage her cast to adopt pseudo Russian accents. Chekhov’s work is so timeless, despite its distinctly Russian mien, it remains universally popular. The only thing that weighs down this production is its overused reference to the symbolic dead seagull.

"The Seagull"
Soars at Huntington

A Review by Sheila Barth

A superlative cast of 13, Ralph Funicello’s lavish set, Robert Morgan’s stunning period costumes, and James F. Ingall’s dramatic lighting dominate the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Paul Schmidt’s popular translated version of Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece, “The Seagull”. 

Pleased to be reunited with renowned director Maria Aitken, star Kate Burton (Richard Burton’s daughter) and her son, Morgan Ritchie have returned to the Huntington after their sterling performances in “The Corn is Green,” and Burton unleashes her power again. Burton should look familiar to TV viewers, too, as Vice President Sally Langston in the popular series, “Scandal”. However, Boston’s own award-winning stars, Thomas Derrah, Nancy E; Carroll, Nael Nacer, Auden Thornton, and the supporting cast, add their perfectly timed humor, pathos, and drama to Chekhov’s symbolic-ridden play of interwoven, unrequited love and unrealized dreams.The play bombed in its original debut in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1896, but zoomed to fame two years later, In Moscow.

The versatile Derrah, portraying fading actress Irina Akadina’s (Kate Burton) sickly brother, Sorin, who’s bored with his serene, bucolic life and yearns for the vibrant city life, steals every scene he’s in, with his mischievous twinkle and marvelous acting.

  Nacer, who’s generally a dramatic showstopper, is pathetic, yet comedic as lovesick, timid, emasculated schoolteacher, Medevenko, who’s head over heels in love with dour, Debbie Downer-type Masha, (Meredith Holzman). Yet she repeatedly spurns him. Saying she’s in mourning for her life, black-garbed Masha only has eyes for Irina’s 25-year-old, suicidal, handsome, aspiring writer son, Konstantin, (Ritchie); but he’s deeply in love with his pretty country neighbor ingenue, Nina, whom Thornton portrays with charming naivete.

Konstantin and his mother, Irina, love each other, but are ideologically at odds, and bicker repeatedly. She prefers the classical, theatrical style that won her fame and fortune, (which is dwindling), while Konstantin fervently touts the “new” style of stage and writing.

Irina and her younger, 43-year-old lover-successful writer, Trigorin, are visiting her brother Sorin and Konstantin at Sorin’s lakeside country estate. And Konstantin deeply resents Trigorin, whom Broadway actor Ted Koch cleverly portrays with understated, wily, egotism. 

During the play, its plot and intricacies of unrequited love become stickier. While Masha deeply desires Konstantin, and Medevenko is deeply in love with her, Masha’s prim mother, Paulina (marvelous Nancy E. Carroll), can’t stand her boorish estate manager-husband, Ilya (Don Sparks), but pines away for refined, well-traveled doctor, Yevgeny Dorn, whom Marc Vietor nicely portrays with a dismissive matter-of-fact demeanor.

During an outdoor, makeshift presentation of Konstantin’s outdoor play-within-a-play, starring only Nina, (whose parents have forbade her to tarry with this group of “Bohemian” neighbors), Irina mocks it. When Konstantin objects to her criticism, Irina says he’s selfish and spoiled. She objects to his petulance and new form, calling it faux intelligence.

Trigorin knows he has Irina wrapped around his baby finger, but he enchants the infatuated Nina into leaving home for Moscow, to meet him there, and audition as an actress. During a stunning scene, Irina shamefully begs and pleads with Trigorin to not leave her.

In Act II, Konstantin’s jealousy and anger about losing Nina, spurs him to write successfully, but he’s still morose, his fate and Nina’s steeped in sadness. The play ends abruptly, with a bang.

Kudos to Aitken, who didn’t encourage her cast to adopt pseudo Russian accents. Chekhov’s work is so timeless, despite its distinctly Russian mien, it remains universally popular. The only thing that weighs down this production is its overused reference to the symbolic dead seagull.

BOX INFO: Two-act play by Anton Chekhov, starring Kate Burton, with her son, Morgan Ritchie, appearing through April 6, at Huntington Theatre Company, Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington St., Boston, Performances: Tuesday-Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, 8 p.m.; matinees, Wednesday, March 26, Saturdays, Sundays, at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $25; senior discount, $5 off;subscribers, BU community, $10 off; patrons 35-younger, $25; students, military with valid IDs, $15. Tickets, visit huntingtontheatre.org/seagull;  huntingtontheatre.org, the box offices at Huntington Street and BCA Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont St., South End, Boston, or call 617-266-0800.

"The Seagull" (7 March - 6 April)
HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY
@ 264 Huntington Avenue, BOSTON MA
1(617)933-8600

"The Seagull" (7 March - 6 April)
HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY
@ 264 Huntington Avenue, BOSTON MA
1(617)933-8600

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