Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Seagull"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"The Seagull"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Providence College's current show is "Seagull" by Anton Chekov. Written in 1896, a gathering of friends at Madame Treplev's country estate during the summer, offers a deceptively calm and lovely surface, but frustrated love and ambition lie just below and at a boiling point. Within the group are a callous mother, Mme. Treplev ,who is an actress and her desperate son, Konstantin, who is in love with a star-struck young girl, Nina, who becomes infatuated with Trigorin, a famous writer who is Madame Treplev's current lover but is also a heartless cad as well as other people so focused elsewhere that they can't see how their actions destroy the potential for happiness in others as well as themselves.Chekov examines the inner turmoil facing each of these characters, bringing the audience to better understand their disappointments, their triumphs and their search for happiness. Konstantin's despair is shown when he kills a seagull and presents it to Nina, trying to convince her to stay close to him but it also foreshadows a greater tragedy near the end of the play. Director Mary Farrell casts each role wonderfully and surrounds herself with talented artists including Jeremy Woodward who creates four different sets for the four act play (done in 2 acts in this presentation) Deborah Newhall who creates many costumes especially the gorgeous gowns worn by Mme Treplev and Nina, Katherine Abernathy for lighting design who creates the needed atmosphere in each scene especially when things take a turn for the worst and Chris Warren for sound design who creates the country sounds of a lake and birds. "Seagull" is a powerful play with wonderful performers in these roles, bringing a successful conclusion to the last mainstage production in the "old" Blackfriars Theatre before moving into the newly constructed Smith Center for the Arts next spring.

The tortured young writer, Konstantin is played by the multitalented, Conor Tansey, a senior at PC. This young man is adept at comedy as proven by his role in "Goodnight Desdemona" last spring as he is in a dramatic role. One of the most moving and poignant moments in this show is a scene between his character and his mother where after wounding himself with a gunshot to his head, he confesses that he feels closer to his mother at that moment as he did as a small child. Conor breaks down in tears during it, moving the audience to tears with him. Portraying his strong willed manipulative mother is Liz Larsen-Silva who appeared as Juliet in "Desdemona" last spring. (Her gowns are magnificent looking including a red and black lace brocade gown.) She is a dominating presence in this show by controling not only her son but all those around her including her wayward lover. Liz's other powerful scene is when she begs Trigorin not to leave her alone. She falls to her knees while tugging on his leg while crying and imploring him to stay with her. The fornicating cad of a writer, Trigorin is played by Peter Waugh. He cheats on his mistress with Nina, a young admirer who he impregnates and leaves. Peter plays this self absorbed cad with a charm that hides his true nature and continually says he would rather fish than write. Betsey Davis plays Nina who starts out as the young, naive girl who loves the idea of being with famous people but soon realizes fame isn't all its cracked up to be. Nina has a breakdown after the death of her baby and her acting career suffers from it. Betsey's final scene with Conor is heartbreaking and brings the show to its inevitable tragic conclusion by Nina's final rejection of Konstantin.(Her gowns reflect the purity of Nina in the first half by having her clad in white gowns and in the last one by having her clad in black to reflect the tragic turn her life has taken in the past two years.)

Erik Andersen is wonderful as Konstantin's sickly uncle, Sorin. He captures the warmth of this character and delivers his lines to display his kindliness. Jeffrey Dujardin is a hoot as Shamrayev, Sorin's estate manager. His comic relief helps to brighten up the heavy drama around him. Jeff imitates a bass singer as well as weaves around the stage drunk. His character is obsessed with protecting the horses and refusing people to use them. His long suffering wife, Paulina who is secretly in the love with the doctor, is played by Kerry McCormack who played the fiery Desdemona last spring. His bithcy daughter, Masha is played by Caitlin Doyle who is always dressed in black because she is upset that Konstatin doesn't reciprocate her love. She settles for marriage to Medvedenko, the school teacher and treats him cruelly. Richard Porcelli plays the henpecked husband of Masha, invoking the audience's sympathy by how awfully he is treated throughout the show by everyone. Matthew Hoffman plays the inept Doctor Dorn who has an eye for the ladies but doesn't treat Sorin's illness correctly. (Chekov's commentary on his low regard for teachers and doctors) He prescribes aspirin and cough syrup for his illness even though it hasn't helped Sorin the past two years. Rounding out this talented cast are Brain McCormack, Colleen Rosati, John Michael Mackiewicz and Nicholas Cipriano. So for a look back at Russia in the late 1890's be sure to catch "Seagull" at Providence College.

"Seagull" (12 - 21 November)
BLACKFRIARS THEATRE
Providence College, River Avenue, PROVIDENCE R I
1 (401) 865-2218

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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