May 282014

The SeagullWritten by Anton Chekhov, this play is about familiar themes: city and country life, the paths available to an artist, the difficulty of being a family, the bonds and conflicts between the old and the young. This version was adapted by the director, Peter Hinton, who made it a contemporary piece with modern references. This kind of change often wrecks a play, but in this case, it worked really well.

The older actors ran circles around the younger ones, which makes the play seem very much to take their side. It’d be interesting to see the same adaptation with young actors running circles around their elders because I suspect the play is complete enough to take the kids’ side if they did.

The Segal Center made a trailer for the performance that makes the whole thing look like a Denys Arcand film. Which is apt: the piece kept reading as a pastiche or homage to Le Déclin de l’empire américain. The synopsis provided by the theatre reads:

By a lake, in the country, a summer night inspires a family of artists to love, to live and to question the real exchange of art, passion and experience. Chekhov’s masterpiece is brought to life in a new version by visionary director and playwright Peter Hinton, starring two of Canada’s most celebrated leading ladies, Lucy Peacock and Diane D’Aquila. The Seagull is heartbreaking and comic, funny and bittersweet – a modern take on a classic play for our times.