Monday, June 6, 2016

Review of The Artistic Home's The Seagull

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Seagull. It was by Anton Chekhov and it was directed by Cody Estle. It was about this man named Konstantin (Julian Hester) and he wanted to be a writer. As the play goes on, his life keeps getting worse and worse. He's losing his love Nina (Brookelyn H├ębert), he's losing his mother Arkadina (Kathy Scambiaterra), and he is losing his happiness entirely. Almost everyone in the show is pretty depressed or unhappy at some point. But the show is also funny at points. I like Chekhov's dark humor in his shows. He is good at making depressing scenes depressing but also in turning terrible situations into something kind of funny. The characters do things that you hate, but you still have sympathy for them at some time or other. This was a great production. The acting was amazing; I don't always feel sympathy for some of the characters in The Seagull that I felt sympathy for in this production. I really liked the show. I thought it was insanely moving. It is the first time I ever cried during a Chekhov play.

In the first scene there were a lot of sad moments but then there were also funny moments. I feel like the first scene kind of captured the tone of the entire play. One of the first lines in the play is Masha (Laura Lapidus) saying, "I wear black because I'm in mourning for my life." It is funny because it is such a very emo thing to say, but it is sad because that is actually how she feels and she is not just saying that. Masha is a very troubled lady and I wish that she could have told Konstantin how she actually felt, that she liked him. But I think it is good that she doesn't pursue it because as Nina finds out, Konstantin can be kind of a drama queen son of a biscuit who doesn't consider anybody else's feelings. Her obsession with Konstantin is kind of funny though, because no one in the audience thinks he's worth the trouble. I really thought that the play Konstantin wrote was hilarious. It is all about the end of the world and everything is dead except for this one thing played by Nina who is speaking. He does not mean for it to be funny. I know it sounds very dark, but it ends up being funny because of the way that the people watching are making fun of it. They are making fun of how deep he is trying to be. But then Konstantin gets mad and stops the show and storms off. So then you do kind of feel sorry for him even though he is making it a bigger deal than it is. You also see the funniness and the sadness in that scene when the doctor, Dorn (Brian McKnight), is talking to his lover Polina (Barbara Figgins). It is sad because Polina feels that the doctor doesn't love her anymore, even though they have been going at this for a very long time. But it is funny how she expresses how she wants him to stay with her by saying "You are still attractive to women. They are all swooning over you." She starts out with a compliment and turns into utter jealousy. Then Nina gives him a bunch of flowers and Polina says, "Oh, these are lovely" and then she takes them out of his hands and storms off with them. I thought that was super hilarious; it made me laugh, but I did still feel sorry that her feelings had gotten hurt.

Medvedenko (Kaiser Ahmed) has had a huge crush on Masha for a very long time and eventually they do get married. He got what he wanted but it wasn't exactly what he wanted when he got it. In the second half they get into a huge fight about her coming home to their baby. I don't think that Masha makes the right decision to just stay at Arkadina and Konstantin's house for the night and not care for her child. That part I find very sad because they have a big couple's quarrel in front of their friends and her family. Their fight was very realistic. They didn't have a huge battle or a screaming fight, but it was still really terrible because of the way they were treating each other. Chekhov's point is that even if you think you know what you want, sometimes it isn't what you want once you actually experience it. Masha didn't want it, but she marries Medvedenko anyway to get over Konstantin. That doesn't really work out for her in the end.

Near the end of the play, Nina comes back to Konstantin. She has been with Trigorin (Scot West) who had been with Arkadina when they met. Nina has a child with him, but the child dies, he leaves her, and her acting career is a flop. So she comes back to Konstantin to visit, but at the same time Trigorin is there with Arkadina, which of course Nina is not very happy about. And she keeps saying that she is the seagull because she is the girl that Trigorin was talking about as a subject for a story about a girl who is free and lives by the lake and is destroyed by a guy who doesn't have anything better to do. After she leaves, Konstantin is very upset and starts ripping up papers because she has blatantly rejected him. It is very sad to see this guy who has loved this woman for years, and when she comes back she doesn't love him. The papers are all of his work and he does it in one fell swoop and doesn't even think about it because Nina has so much power over him. It is terrifying to see someone so overpowered by something that he should have been over years ago. I cried at this moment and I feel like the man playing Konstantin really moved me. If you are just reading the play, you might not care because he is kind of a jerk to a lot of people. But this actor really made me care about the character.

People who would like this show are people who like sad but funny shows, sympathetic characters, and mourning for their lives. I thought this was a beautiful show and I loved it.

Photos: Joe Mazza at Brave Lux

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