Like Shakespeare, a Chekhov play reveals us to ourselves. Heuberger's Seagull both does and doesn't do that.

January 27, 2010 23:28
1 minute read.

Theater Review 88. (photo credit: )

The point of a Chekhov play is that life provides all the drama and/or comedy anybody is ever going to need. Like Shakespeare, a Chekhov play reveals us to ourselves. Heuberger's Seagull both does and doesn't do that.

Seagull starts with a play by a lake. At her brother's Pyotr Sorin's (Uri Avrahami) country estate, famous actress Irina Arkardina (Osnat Fishman) and her guests watch the play her son Konstantin (a suitably wimpy Michael Moshonov) has written. Konstantin is in love with Nina (an appealing Dana Ivgy) from across the lake, who is his actress. Nina, in turn, falls hard for famous author Trigorin (an effectively restrained Heuberger), Arkadina's acknowledged lover. Add to this the disillusioned Dr. Dorn (Eli Danker), who's loved by Polina (a flawless performance by Davit Gavish), the moody Masha (Hilla Feldman), who carries a torch for Konstantin, and her ignored swain, later husband, Medvedenko (Roi Miller), and life can begin.

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The actors, rare on our stages, are actually talking to one another. The dialogue is natural, unforced and holds the attention wonderfully. Sensibly, Heuberger has not tried to turn his Israeli actors into Russians, and why should he? This is an Israeli Seagull, so that Masha, for instance, comes across as a spoiled brat rather than a poseur, and Arkadina, lapsing into crassness, forgets she's a theatrical grande dame. Perhaps she's influenced by the inappropriate costumes she wears.

Altogether, the costumes by Einat Nir are dire. While they are not ugly or unsuitable, they shilly-shally between the 19th century and the 21st. However, Lily Ben Nahshon's set of transparent curtains and movie-theater rows of wooden seats complement the theme of Art in the play.

This production is very much about the characters and the interplay between them, but somehow the play itself gets lost. It's all very literal; what you see is what you get, and there's a lot of surface sheen. The essence of Chekhov, whether or not he intended for it to be so, is the mystery inherent to life. This Seagull lacks that.

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