The Seagull is the first of what are considered Anton Chekov’s major plays. Its first performance however was booed and so terrified the actress playing Nina that she lost her voice. The play is about love and art and how they are defining forces in the lives of the four principles, Nina the ingénue, Tregorin the would-be writer of surrealistic plays, Arkadina the fading leading lady, and Treplev, a middle of the road writer of novels. But every character in the play is in love with someone and is frustrated with his or her lives on some level. Witness the famous exchange between the schoolteacher and Masha, the unhappy daughter of her father who runs the farm and who is in love with Treplev. The schoolteacher asks her “Why do you always wear black?’ to which she answers “I am in mourning for my life”. This just about sums up the cloud that hangs over the characters (though each deals with it differently) and yet the plays is funny. Why? Because the characters can’t seem to break out of their lethargy.
Antaeus, the remarkable classical theatre company located in North Hollywood, has done it again. The company has been able to produce a first- rate production of the play using their trademark double casting. The result are basically at least two different shows, depending who is playing which character, and even more possibilities when they mix the casting up. This form of production is utilized to allow the company members to take other jobs while knowing they are covered by a very good actor. I am not going to review the actors (I am associated with this company) and leave that to other reviews. On the whole the reviews have been excellent. The Seagull is directed by Andrew J. Traister and will play until April 15th. Antaeus Theatre Company