Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Seagull"

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note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark


"The Seagull"

By Anton Chekhov
Translated by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Jason Myatt

Set & Lighting Design by John MacKenzie
Scenic Artist Michele Boll
Birches by Carolyn Fuchs
Costume Design by Amanda Price
Sound Design by Jim Anton
Dramaturgy by Alyona Carozza
Produced by John MacKenzie & Michelle Aguillon
Assistant Stage Manager Sarah Marshall
Stage Manager Brooke Spangler

Medvedenko..................Jim Muzzi
Masha....................Erica Klempner
Sorin.............................Jason Katz
Konstantin...............Jason Yaitanes
Yakov................Michael Tomasulo
Nina..............................Kim Anton
Polina.....................Ronni Marshak
Dorn..........................Peter Brown
Arkadina...................Elyse Cronyn
Shamraev...............Stephen Turner
Trigorin...................Wayne Vargas
Housemaid...............Julie Connolly

Perhaps its Tom Stoppard's new translation, but Chekhov's "The Seagull" seems surprisingly short on the intimate Abbott Memorial stage. Perhaps its Jason Myatt's direction that emphasizes the quiet, inner emotions of the characters. Certainly, in the hands of this cast, it seems an entirely new play.

The play is a complicated set of tensions, starting with a kind of round-robin of unrequited lovers yearning after people yearning for...other people! Then there's the rivalry a young writer (Jason Yaitanes) feels for an older, famous one (Wayne Vargas) --- a rivalry complicated when the young man's beloved (Kim Anton) falls for the elder --- who happens to be the companion of that young man's mother (Elyse Cronyn). There's a generational rivalry between mother's flamboyantly old-fashioned acting style (off as well as on stage!) and her son's demands for a fresher, more abstract kind of play that will sweep her entire theatrical world out of existence. And now and again there is evidence that the constantly travelling Muscovites and the small-town manager of their farm (Peter Brown) take a crabby, carping distrust for one another.

The son, the girl, the writer and the mother are center-stage in this production, as the play opens with a "modernistic" production of the young man's pretentious monologue, starring of course his lady-love, with the other two as quite condescending members of the audience. Naturally the provincial actress feels star-struck by the great writer --- who insists he himself feels a failure. Wayne Vargas intensifies this self-critical aspect here, to the point that he all but disappears from view. That means that Kim Anton's girl, running after him to Moscow and to a disastrous affair and a disappointing failure on big city stages, takes over the story. Jason Yaitanes serves as the distraught bridge between a mother who cannot give him either money or respect, and a young love who drives him twice to attempt suicide. The volcano inside him is always compelling, whether through lines or silences.

It has become a cliché, but the design/execution team of Michele Boll and John MacKenzie continue to astonish at the Abbott Memorial. The young man's play is to be performed with the real landscape of a lakeside as scenery to be seen at moonrise through a frame. And that's exactly what appears --- framed in turn by Carolyn Fuchs' white birch-trees, and followed by an inside room full of interesting detail for the second act.

This is Jason Myatt's first crack at directing a full-length play. He wisely chose Tom Stoppard's new, economical translation, and carved a concentrated, respectable production from a script native Russians spend decades rehearsing. A good, satisfying beginning.

Love,
===Anon.


"The Seagull" (3 - 18 May)
THE HOVEY PLAYERS
Abbott Memorial Theater, 9 Spring Street, WALTHAM, MA
1(781)893-9171


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