Section: Arts

Love, family affairs come to light in Chekhov’s Seagull

Love, family affairs come to light in Chekhov’s Seagull

by Victoria Ungvarsky | Photo Editor

Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, an intense, tragicomic classic, flew into the Bolton last weekend. The play, directed by Assistant Professor of Drama and Film James Dennen, marked the second mainstage show of the Kenyon College Dramatic Club season and gave all who attended an unparalleled opportunity to experience a solid reimagining of a classic piece of theatre.

The play focuses on the lives of artists and workers on a rural Russian estate by a lake and raises intriguing questions about what defines art, love and how human interactions define both. Particularly strong performances were those of the depressed playwright Konstantin, played by Max Pescherine ’17, and the sardonic Masha, played by Sarah White ’16. Pescherine breathed new life into the trope of the angry artist, upset at the world for his failures. White always brought a moment of ease when her lovesick and jaded Masha appeared on stage. Each displayed a wry and earnest depth in their characters. Also, Dr. Yevgeny Dorn, played smartly by Issa Polstein ’15, provided a comedic contrast to the otherwise somber play. An impressive student ensemble rounded out the cast.

Although The Seagull is an ensemble piece, the show predominantly focuses on the lives of four characters: Konstantin; his aging actress mother, Irina, played by Professor of Drama Wendy MacLeod; Nina, the aspiring actress from the country, played by Anna Yukevich ’16; and the mysterious writer Trigorin, performed by Assistant Professor of Drama Ben Viccellio. This peculiar set up drives much of the action of the show, and it was thoroughly captivating for the duration of the play.

This production’s addition of faculty members Viccellio and MacLeod was brilliant; they both embraced their roles with poignant and dedicated honesty. Their scene together was electric. MacLeod and Viccellio have palpable, raw talent that they have cultivated through years of experience. One of the show’s greatest strengths, however, became one of its biggest weaknesses — Viccellio and MacLeod’s performances outshone many of the other actors’ in the show, including Yukevich’s as Nina. Her Nina was delicate and determined, but could not muster the same intensity of Viccellio’s Trigorin, making their relationship somewhat one-sided.

Also missing the mark was the use of Amish-style clothing for the majority of the actors, save for Trigorin and Irina, who wore white clothes common to Chekhov’s Russia. The use of Amish-style clothing — long, plain dresses for women and pants and suspenders for the men — seemed like an unnecessary way to label the other characters as “simple.” The contrast could have been made without drawing upon modern stereotypes.

The Seagull is a difficult show to produce, but, despite some hiccups, this production embraced the challenge, and presented an entertaining and captivating night of theatre.


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