Chekov’s The Seagull (new version adapted and directed by Peter Hinton) is a tragically funny play that touches the themes of age gaps, art, and the many ways you can indulge in unrequited love. It’s hypnotic as a train wreck – a long, leisurely look at how miserable life is.
The acting was stunning. There was quite a large cast, and everyone managed to carve out their own characters with care and panache. Because of the way the play was formatted, every character was at times a primary character and at times a secondary character, and the actors adapted beautifully. It was the only play I’ve seen where, frankly, everyone stole the show. Every time an actor revealed a new facet to their character, they surpassed themselves.
The characters, relationships and scenarios in this play were disturbingly familiar. One thing that struck me was that the audience all laughed at different moments. Sometimes, my laughter echoed out alone, and a couple of times I found myself on the verge of tears while a spattering of laughter trotted through the audience. The Seagull offers a deeply personal experience that resounds differently with each audience member.
The plot boiled down to a tangled web of contrasts; the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the sophisticated and the unsophisticated (whatever that means), the traditional and the modern, love and indifference. It tackled many questions on art that are particularly relevant. Is art only validated by the audience or by fame? Does the intention and the thought behind it matter more than the result? Although it hints at possible answers, the play does not presume to give one that is definite.
The set was elaborate and interesting. Once again, contrast was played up. In the middle of the stage was a nice array of furniture, and around the edges were leafless trees. There was even fake snow, which, however gratuitous, made my night – those cheesy theatre tricks still make me feel like a little girl at Disney on Ice.
This play had me hooked from beginning to end – quite a feat, considering it lasted a whopping 3.5 hours. The sore bum was definitely worth it.
The Seagull plays at the Segal Theatre (5170 Cote St. Catherine) from February 2 to February 19. Tickets $24.