THE SEAGULL by Anton Chekhov, adapted by David Egan, directed by David Matheson (Wordsmyth/Rogue & Peasant Theatre Co.). At Equity Showcase Theatre (651 Dufferin). To March 11. Pwyc-$20. 1-888-222-6608. See Continuing, page 72. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Though not without its amateurish moments, David Matheson 's earnest production of The Seagull has a purity that helps tease out the complex artistic themes in Anton Chekhov 's masterpiece.
The plot, set over three years in the Russian countryside, traces the turbid relationships among four passionate artists. When fading actress Irina Arkadina ( Melee Hutton ) and her novelist lover Trigorin ( Wayne Ward ) travel to the provinces, Arkadina's cruel mockery of her son Konstantin Treplev ( Craig Stanghetta ) sets off a ripple of events no amount of vodka and snuff will ease. Local country girl and aspiring actor Nina ( Christine Horne ) captures Treplev's heart but falls for Trigorin, her suitor's mother's lover, which ultimately devastates Treplev.
Though at the start the cast's exaggerated hand gestures and clowning facial expressions seem excessive, halfway through the first act the overacting disappears and the actors relax and find their collective rhythm. Unfortunately, the second act drags like the female characters' unwieldy taffeta skirts.
Though Hutton's hysteria and Stanghetta's volatility provide heightened mother-son sexual tension in the drawn-out second shift, it still moves far too unevenly.
The two-tiered set also undermines the drama. Marooning actors in remote heights gives the second act a claustrophobic feel, leaving them inaccessible for the ensemble scenes.
This ambitious Seagull doesn't always take off, but the journey's full of passion and sincerity.