Actors save the Seagulls

Dull play boosted by strong
performances by theatre students

By Katrina Tortorici

The Dawson’s professional theatre department’s portrayal of the classic 19th century play, The Seagull, was original and dramatic, though lacked simple elements that would have made it a more convincing production. The play, directed by Jude Beny, was performed at Dawson’s New Theatre between March 3 and 6

The Seagull is a play that revolves around the lives of an assorted group of individuals whose worlds are intertwined due a connection of blood, marriage, or love. Konstantin (Simon Lavoie-Lamarre) aspires to be a famous writer and works hard to impress his mother, Arkadina (Isabelle Jimenez-Stevens), a well-known actress who resents her son for making her feel like an older woman. She is obsessed with youth and fame and belittles her son’s talent. Meanwhile, she has arrived with her lover, Trigorin (Jeremy Segal), who is already a successful writer, triggering Konstantin’s jelousy and frustration. On top of this, he has to deal with the love of his life Nina (Alison Mclean), a lovely and young hopeful actress, who develops feelings for Trigorin. The situation can also be compared to Shakespeare’s,Twelfth Night (although nowhere near as epic), as there is a chain of unrequited love; Medvedenko (Samuel Gould), a nerdy and caring schoolteacher, loves Masha, the daughter of the estate’s steward, but Masha (Minh-Ly Nguyen-Cao), is infatuated by Konstantin, who we all know cannot live without Nina. All of this makes a mess of things and unravels events that cause heartbreak and even death. The tangle of characters and their relationships were at first confusing and difficult to comprehend.

Having read this play prior to viewing it, I was not exactly expecting the next production of Hamlet. The Seagull is probably my least favourite play, which is what made me so curious as to what Dawson students have done with it. I have to give it to them – they actually mastered the art of keeping me awake from beginning to end. Their enthusiasm and with that they each put into their characters was well received by the crowd, who laughed at every joke and chuckled at every deliberate mock facial expression; albeit, the end definitely seemed as though it was dragging. One moment, you would think, “OK, this is it. Curtains?” Close, but no cigar; a few more scenes would follow that. It was kind of like Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, where every scene in the last half hour seemed like it could have been the last.

The set was mediocre, though not pitiful, and the costumes were sometimes inappropriate. Arkadina’s black, shiny platforms were utterly distracting and Paulina Andryevna (Delphine DiTecco), mother of Masha, was dressed as though she had just walked out of a humanities course at Dawson; her attempt at looking like a farmer was a fail, as her leather knee high boots, tight jeans and fitted plaid blouse were quite modern.
On a much happier note, Alison MacLean deserves praise, as she delivered one of the most promising performances I have seen on the Dawson stage. She had large and difficult parts to play, first as the naive, sweet young girl, and then as the bitter and changed adult version of herself at the end of the play. I’d also like to acknowledge Jeremy Michael Segal’s performance, who played the part of Trigorin. He was funny in his attempt to seem like a brooding man who was unsatisfied with his career.

All in all, choice of play – not so good. But a fine interpretation of the dull classic, it was. After all, I was among those who delivered a standing ovation.

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