Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Seagull

I thought The Seagull was actually quite good. I’d read some not stellar reviews of it before going in, so I wasn’t sure how successful it would be. The performances are often over the top, sometimes excessively. But, for the most part, I thought that the extreme interpretations served the characters well. Yes, there were elements where the director could have and should have pulled back: as Shannon noted, is everything in act one so urgent that all the actors had to run everywhere they went? Could no one simply walk across the stage? But, overall, these choices worked.

What I liked about this production was that it was funny while never really being a comedy. I’ve heard the claim that Chekhov intended it to be a comedy; maybe he did, but, for better or worse, I don’t really see it that way. Instead, it felt very real to me in the sense that almost every character faced great, great disappointments but there were still hugely funny moments. Isn’t that how most of our lives are? I think most people struggle with some element of their lives, whether it’s like Masha’s unrequited love, Konstantin’s familial and artistic frustrations, Sorin’s lifelong solitude, or something else completely. But in between life’s huge challenges, we find humor and opportunities to laugh, and this is just what Chekhov also gives us.