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|From Russians, with Love: "The Seagull," at Augustana College through May 9|
|Theatre - Reviews|
|Written by Thom White|
|Monday, 03 May 2010 06:00|
I have a confession: Since discovering my passion for the theatre, I've intentionally avoided the works of Anton Chekov. So many of my theatre friends consider Chekov to be the pinnacle of playwrights, placing him even higher than Shakespeare, yet fearing that I'd be excommunicated should I not like his works, I stayed away from them altogether. But now, after seeing the opening-night performance of Augustana College's The Seagull, I must form and share my opinion. So here it is: It turns out I like Chekov. A lot.
Set in 1990's-era California, director Mark Hurty's production of Chekov's 19th-Century tragicomedy concerns a small group of Russians enjoying a holiday at the vineyard of Peter Sorin (Alex Van Beek). Not enjoying their time together is Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov (Bart Curtin), a writer frustrated with the common conventions of contemporary theatre, and in love with aspiring actress Nina Mikhailovna Zarechaya (Anna Dundek). Much of his melancholy derives from the mockery of his work by his mother, successful actress Irina Nikolayevna Arkadina (Rachel Krein), and on top of that pain, Nina loves acclaimed novelist Boris Alexeyevich Trigorin (Rolf Koos), whom Arkadina loves.
The series of unrequited loves continues with Ilya Afanasyevich Shamrayev (Henry Lapka), Sorin's estate manager, who loves Arkadina. His wife, Polina Andreyevna (Mary Naughton), is understandably saddened by this, and by the fact that Yevgeny Sergeyevich Dorn (Matthew Fox Kerr), the local doctor, will not return her advances. Meanwhile, Masha (Jennifer Altenbernd), the daughter of Shamrayev and Andreyevna, loves Konstantin, but marries Semyon Semyonovich Medvedenko (Sean Serluco), who loves her.
As you can probably tell, this is way beyond standard boy-meets-girl material. It's also what I found I like about Chekov - his characters are multi-dimensional, with lives that weave together in unexpected ways that mimic true life. And what wordcraft! I can't count the times during Augustana's performance that I made a mental note to remember a sharp-witted line for later, personal use.
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