So there were three of us at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company on Friday night. All of us loving theater, and attending plays often. And none of us, not even our former college English teacher, had ever seen The Seagull – which is probably Chekhov’s best known play.
Cincy Shakes has a terrific ensemble of actors, who made excellent work of this play. Like the other Chekhov plays I’ve seen, The Seagull often just appears to be clumps of people carry out actions almost at random – as though they have nothing to do with each other. This one is a variation on that theme – with one character in love with another, most all unrequited and unrelated to reality. Masha is loved by Medvedenko, but she loves Konstantin – who is loved by Nina until she falls in love with Trigorin – who is supposed to love Irina Arkadina, but pursues Nina. Masha’s mother is in love with Dorn (played by Chris Reeder, one of the founding members of the company, back for this play), who almost serves as a Greek chorus. And Sorin has never been in love with anyone, nor married – which he frequently mentions as the tragedy of his life. One really feels that he might well be the luckiest of the lot.
The play ends badly for nearly everyone – especially the seagull. Excellent theater nonetheless.