The Jeune Lune's The Seagull Soars
In his production of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, producer Dominique Serrand does an admirable job of bringing out the humor of the play and using the Jeune Lune's characteristic physical theater to maintain tension without weakening the powerful and dark themes of the play.
In The Seagull, a dysfunctional family and their friends gather together on an idyllic country farm where they become entangled in webs of unrequited love, jealousy, and boredom. Arkadina, a famous but aging actress, is at the center of the web pulling strings to maintain the adoration and admiration she so desperately needs. Her lover, the celebrated writer Trigorin, is tempted in his boredom by Nina the daughter of a wealthy neighbor and the girlfriend of Arkadina's son Konstantin. A host of supporting characters are also caught up in the infatuation.
We also see a coming of age story with the various young people in the play reaching maturity and emulating the none too admirable adults. Within the web of unrequited love, the only 'love' that is returned is from Trigorin to the adoring Nina; however, this love is destructive and parasitic as Trigorin steals Nina's innocence and girlish naivety.
In this mix as well are Konstantin's desperate need for maternal affection from Arkadina and his attempts to create a new literary style - which his mother rejects because it makes her own work as an actress dated, revealing her age. Konstantin's efforts shadow Chekhov's own struggle to push the boundaries of theater and literature, for which he received both praise and humiliation in his time.
The cast is strong, consisting of many Jeune Lune favorites. Particularly notable are Charles Schuminski as Sorin the slightly soft-in-the-head brother of Arkadina, Nathan Keepers as Medvedenko the school teacher, and Steven Epp as Trigorin. The set features 46 massive birch trees, making good use of the space available in the Jeune Lune theater. The lighting of Marcus Dilliard is truly outstanding, evoking moods and memories slanting through the birch trees.
The Jeune Lune is an ideal company to take on this play and bring out the comic undertones which Chekhov had subtly written into his script. If you are in the mood for a dark comedy, you won't find a better option in town.
The Seagull Runs March 8th-April 27th: Fridays 7:30 pm, Saturdays 2:00 and 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $10 Thurs., $26 Fri. & Sat., and $20 Sun., general admission seating. Theatre De La Jeune Lune, 105 North First Street, Minneapolis. Call: (612) 333-6200 or online at www.jeunelune.com.