GW Theatre performs Chekhov’s `The Seagull’ with thoughtfulness

“I want to live,” cries Peter Sorin (Troy Miller), endlessly puffing on a cigarette as he wrenches and writhes from undefined but painful ailments.


Sorin, a former district attorney, exemplifies the feeling of dissatisfaction and aversion for life in each character of Anton Chekhov’s, “The Seagull.” In his typical style, Chekhov unfolds the tale of individuals brought together by chance and destiny – relaying stories of unfulfilled expectations the characters have of each other.

The cast of GW students performs the stories of despair with a thorough understanding of the work.

An actress in the twilight of her career and life, Anna Nicolas (Laura Parris) clings to the younger, much-acclaimed writer Boris Trigorin (Craig A. Geiling). Anna wants him to complete the final page of her life story.

Boris’ mind, however, wanders hither and thither as he scribbles incessantly in his note pad, recording every phrase and experience for use in his plays. The value of his work is of the utmost importance, but his regards for Anna are minimal.

Anna’s passion and domineering personality leash the spineless Boris to her. But he strays from her when he encounters the nymph-like Nina Michaelson (Eleanor Miller). She is the beau of Anna’s son Konstantin, an aspiring writer (John M.B. Tarleton).

Nina longs for success as an actress and yearns for the stardom and charm that Boris enjoys and Konstantin lacks. Her naivet? and freshness enchant Boris but not much more than a dead seagull – both were considered experiences to include in his next story.

Nina’s displaced love shatters the fragile Konstantin, who desperately tries to fill the void his neglecting mother left in his life.

In his self pity, Konstantin overlooks the attempts of admirer Masha Shamrieff (Jenna Harju), the daughter of the estate’s manager Elliott Shamrieff (Josh Rubin). Eternally cloaked in black to symbolize her dejection, Masha throws herself into a loveless marriage.

Dreams remain unrealized, lives inexperienced and love not reciprocated.

Chekhov captured this eternal human despair almost a century ago. The cast, with the help of GW’s George Reddick, puts a 1990s breath into the play to bring the characters to life.

The 19th century country estate setting is converted to a summer home in the Hamptons on Long Island, N.Y. Russian names such as Yevgeny Sergeyevich Dorn are altered to Dr. Eugene Dorn.

The inclusion of People magazine and cellular telephones add to the 20th century flavor. And camera flashes partitioning scenes give the feel of a technological age.

But the simple human desire that rages in the hearts of people through all centuries is preserved by a cast of thoughtful amateur actors. Miller’s depiction of the emotionally and physically decaying Sorin adds an immeasurable strength to the play. Parris’ perfect delivery of every line and gesture gives it character.

The cast’s noble and worthy attempt to tackle an internationally renowned writer’s work that unnerves even the most experienced thespians deserves appreciation and a viewing.

“The Seagull” will be performed in the Marvin Center’s Dorothy Betts Theatre Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

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