The Seagull Soars at the Huntington

Chekhov's Classic Brilliantly Presented and Performed

By: - Mar 13, 2014

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The Seagull

By Anton Chekhov

Directed by Maria Aitken

Cast: Kate Burton (Irina Arkadina), Morgan Ritchie (Konstantin), Nancy E. Carroll (Paulina Andreyevna), Nael Nacer (Medevenko), Jeff Marcus (The Servant), Thomas Derrah (Sorin), June Baboian (The Cook), Kyle Cherry (Yakov), Melissa Jesser (The Maid) Ted Koch (Trigorin), Auden Thornton (Nina), Meredith Holzman (Masha), Don Lee Sparks (Shamarayev), and Marc Vietor (Dorn). 

Design team: Scenic designer Ralph Funicello, Costume designer Robert Morgan, Sound designer Drew Levy, Original music composer Mark Bennett and Lighting designer James F. Ingalls.

The Huntington Theatre Company

At the BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston MA 02115, 617 266 0800

March 7 to April 6, 2014

Of the four greatest Anton Chekhov plays, including The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya, The Seagull is his one play best loved by actors. This is because it is not only about the difficulties of life and love, but it focuses on the problems of being an artist and living the creative life.

Wonderfully directed by Maria Aiken to underscore the tragicomedy of the narrative, this sensational production of The Seagull at the Huntington showcases the brilliance of Chekhov's conception with the quality of superb actors and stagecraft.

In The Seagull, the playwright has deftly created emotional light and shadows, humor and tragedy, ambition and failure along with love lost and love really never shared. Conversation is the action in Chekhov's plays. And here there is plenty of wonderful talk.

Love and creativity are the themes. The story has many love subplots with intertwining relationships. Trigorin played by Ted Koch is both Irina's lover as well as the youthful Nina's who is played by Auden Thornton.

But, of course, Konstantin loves Nina, while Masha who loves Konstantin is loved by Medevenko. And, I need to add that Paulina Andreyevna has eyes only for Dr. Dorn. In the actual play, it seems clearer, poignantly focused and in the end tragic.

Creativity or being an artist is dealt with on so many often exquisite levels in the play. Konstantin's youthful ambition and regretful failures, Trigorin's seemingly easy success and Irina's artistic dominance, arrogance and parental flaws all swirl together, bubbling up and often churning to a boil or just becoming puffs of whispy steam.

This Seagull soars. Here, the acting is what makes theatre magical. Kate Burton may have been born to play Irina Arkadina. Her Irina is not likable, but yet uncomfortably familiar and somehow connected to us. She is theatrically regal yet emotionally vulnerable.

This type of sensational portrayal is also true of Thomas Derrah's brilliant channeling of the aging, regretful and yet always amusing Sorin. Morgan Ritchie's very believable Konstantin is a dark mix of frustrated ambition along with layers of familial and romantic disappointments.

Marc Vietor's country doctor is at once affable, somewhat cynical, melancholy and a bit insensitive. Yet, when he sings, he brings a lightness to various dramatic moments. Nancy E. Carroll's frustrated Paulina Andreyevna and Don Sparks' bombastic, a bit scenery-chewing Shamarayev are both spot on characterizations as well.

Also, special mention should be made of Meredith Holzman's miserable Masha ("I always wear black because I am in mourning for my life!"). She is resigned indignity.

Stagecraft at the Huntington is a hallmark of the quality of all of their productions. The sensational sets both outdoors and indoors by Ralph Funicello and Costume designer Robert Morgan's elegant to tattered dressing of the characters are a seamless visually and environmentally eloquent part of this well-told Chekhov story. 

The Seagull is a theatre classic. With its outstanding performances and beautiful stagecraft, like a fine wine, this Huntington Theatre brilliant production is a play to be carefully imbibed, cherished and savored.