Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Seagull, Chekov

A trip to Boston from Cape Cod doesn't really have to be an entire day's adventure but it was yesterday.  The trip to the Huntington Theatre to see Chekov's The Seagull left here at 10:00 ... well 10:30 as one of the two buses was late arriving, and we did not get back until after 6:00.  It was worth a day -- a very, very find production of Chekov's first (and initially failed) play directed with much humor and good taste by Maria Atkin.  The big draw as Kate Burton playing Madam Arkadina, the narcissistic actress.  Her actual son, Morgan Ritchie, played her stage son, the young writer, Konstantin.  The production was lovely, the casting, especially of the women was brilliant. The men were less individual than the women and I found Trigoran the weakest -- of course he is a popular hack and knows it, a weak person himself.

The play is what w think of as very "Russian" -- everyone talks endlessly about their ambitions and art. The angst is  palpable but Ms. Atkin has the 21th century attitude, we laugh delightedly at Marsha who wears black because she's "in mourning" for her life, she drinks and marries the man she loves who doesn't love her.  Marsha is in fact a minor character in this set of couples who show us different kinds or unrequited love. It's a pleasure to see a play that could be dreary, old fashioned and over-acted made lively and fascinating.  Burton is wonderful and so is the lovely young Nina (Auden Thornton) who had the nerve to pursue her dreams, fails  in many ways, but, by the end has understood accommodation and the occasional bliss of success. 

The Russian audience did not like the first production. Chekov was phlegmatic about the failure; he did not expect it to be a success.  It was his first attempt at theatre and I suspect all writing came to him so easily he, unlike the writers in the play, did not consider it necessary for self-realization. A year or so later, when Stanislavsky remounted the play it was a great success and has been ever since. This seems to me a wonderful instance of just what is talked about so much in the play, what it means to write well and truly, to have observed people and caught them with all their needs and psychoses worn like the latest fashion.



Another of your captivating reviews. A long day but it was well worth it I would say -- barbara

June Calender said...

Yes, Barbara, I agree, well worth the day spent on a single event.