There is something obvious yet unsettling in the thought that the fight between ‘the old and the new’ still has resonance in today’s world after having seen Anton Chekhov’s play, ‘The Seagull,’ written in 1896. It is assuring yet boring–a word you will hear thrown about a lot in ‘The Seagull’–that we’re still the same creatures on the same path a hundred plus years down the road. Are we still hung up on the need to create the new avant-garde? Yes. Who cares if something or someone else comes along and demolishes the brilliance that we thought only our generation could create? A bunch of us. Let’s try new things; but let us not forget that there aren’t a lot of things that are that original. Was that the theme here?
Kristin Scott Thomas was amazing as Arkadina. I was really excited to see her performance. She stole the ‘show’ within the play without grandstanding for the audience–even though all eyes were on her. That is a generous display for an actor. Chekhov’s meta-theatrical look at actors, playwrights and their companions could have easily allowed for Thomas to overshadow her fellow actors, but she didn’t. Kudos to her.
I was, however, a bit underwhelmed by someone that Thomas left room for on stage but who never really showed up. Peter Sarsgaard, whose acting in films I have loved, seemed rudimentary and flat on stage next to Thomas and some other characters, especially Zoe Kazan as Masha and Carey Mulligan as Nina, whom were obvious crowd favorites. Even Mackenzie Crook, my beloved Garreth from the English series ‘The Office,’ was sometimes wooden next to the women on the stage, although he had a few moments of brilliance. Was that because his hair hung too much in his face or maybe Chekhov writes better for women? The women were the real act here tonight. And really, what’s so new about that?
Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’ runs through December 21st, at the beautiful art nouveau Walter Kerr Theatre.
Posted by: Autumn