Presented by the White Heron Theater Company at Second Stage Theatre, 307 W. 43 St., NYC, May 24-29.
Recently, a new and wonderful production of "The Sea Gull" opened—but it was scheduled for a mere six-day run. Director Earle R. Gister, revered teacher at the Yale School of Drama, handpicked a number of his favorite former students, put them in a rehearsal room, and let them talk to one another using the lines of "The Sea Gull." A simple naturalistic style developed.
Fear not that emotion was lost! Chris Messina was a ferocious Treplev, with all of his manic-depressive energy at the ready—manic preparing an outdoor play he is about to present for his mother and friends, but full of rage when his mother, Arkadina, a famous actress of the Moscow theatre, becomes bored by a play with but one performer. Performed marvelously by Lynne Bolton with magisterial arrogance, Arkadina responds to her son's play with a stage whisper heard by everyone: "What decadence!"
The one performer is the young and attractive Nina (Megan Wyler), whom Treplev desperately loves. But with his mother's remark, he jumps in front of the stage and ends the performance. Also upsetting for Treplev, his mother has brought her latest lover with her, Trigorin, a highly regarded novelist of the moment. Rob Campbell beautifully overplays Trigorin's humility to the point that his denials become self-congratulatory. Nevertheless, Nina foolishly becomes entranced. Clandestinely, Trigorin and Nina plan to meet in Moscow.
"The Sea Gull" is Chekhov's "Hamlet"—as though Claudius abdicated the throne and deserted Gertrude in order to run off with Ophelia. Yes! Tragicomedy!
Jack Flanagan's wonderfully spare set created an expansive sense of space, while Pilar Limosner's costumes described character—Trigorin's odd brown suit in the country marked him as a dandy and a fool.