Anton Chekhov, playwright
Robert Falls, director
October 16 – November 21, 2010
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn
(312) 443-3800;

I must admit that it has been a while since I read the play. Although tempted to reread it before the performance, I’ve decided against it. Afterall, I desired to be able to freely embrace the director’s interpretation of the Chekhov’s masterpiece “The Seagull.”
The play opens as 2 workmen wheel in the heavy stone, which as we later discover is to be used for the platform of the experimental theater piece devised by Konstantin, an aspiring writer. Konstantin played by Stephen Louis Grush, who does a stellar job in a role of an unhappy, self-loathing personality, and generally unsuccessful in romance. Konstantin throughout the play seeks self-realization, yet, although attaining the status of a respected writer, still falls short in gaining Arkadina’s approval. Arkadina, a fashionable actress played by Mary Beth Fisher, desperately trying to hold on to her youth and is in relationship with a much younger successful –spineless- novelist Trigorin aptly played by Cliff Chamberlain. Trigorin’s weak-will nature gets him entangled in a love triangle in an object of Konstantin’s love Nina (Heather Wood). Nina an aspiring actress falls for Arkadina’s young lover Trigorin, whom later emotionally and physically destroys her.

Another character worthy noting is Masha (Kelly O’Sullivan), a rebellious estate’s caretaker’s daughter. Whom secretly worships Konstantin, but settles for a quiet life with an uninspiring teacher Medvenko (Demetrois Troy). Masha seems to be desperately trapped between what she desired to be and what she is – thus it is the root of her rebellion. Then we have Masha’s mother, Polina (Janet Ulrich Brooks), a quite unnoticeable woman on the verge of heading over the cliff, figuratively speaking of course. She is a mirror reflection of a life that her daughter Masha chosen for herself, adoring Dorn, but unhappily settling for another (Steve Pickering).

The play overall captivates its audience, nonetheless, triggered some questions. The device of placing the bench and keeping actors off the stage in attempt of keeping them as part of the play’s audience seems to be distracting and draws away from the power of some entrances. The language utilized in the play in part fails to be true to Chekhov.

The actors overall performed well, while tackling difficult character roles. The three – hour running time went by relatively quickly as the actors kept you captivated while stirring emotions and excitement. Surprising a 19th century play mashed well with a 21st century interpretation.

By: Leonard Mogul