Light as a feather

The Seagull

By Anton Chekhov
Directed by Margaret E. Cabrera
The Trinity Players
Trinity Lutheran Church Theater in the Undercroft 31-18 37th St. Astoria (718-545-4321)
Equity showcase (closes Nov. 19)
Review by Julie Halpern

Chekhov's frustrated artists, jealous lovers, and misguided passions were given a contemporary treatment in Nicholas Saunders and Frank Dwyer's beautiful new translation. Trinity's fine-tuned ensemble pulsated with energy under Margaret E. Cabrera's lively, sensitive direction. The acting was at a consistently high level, revealing a deep exploration of each character's inner life. Cabrera kept the pace moving, never allowing the actors to get bogged down in the talkiness of the play and avoiding the excruciatingly long final scene typical of many productions.

Friends and families reunite each summer at the bucolic country estate of the elderly Sorin. All is not well down on the farm, however, and in true gothic fashion the inner demons of the vacationers unfold. Treplev, a young writer, is obsessed with Nina, an aspiring actress, who loves Trigorin, a successful writer. Treplev's mother, Arkadina, a well-known actress, has also set her sights on Trigorin, who seduces and eventually abandons Nina. Meanwhile Masha, a disturbed, drug-addled young woman, is desperately in love with Treplev, and Masha's mother, Polina, lusts after Dorn, the family doctor. Trapped and bored out in the country, everyone's passions veer out of control, leading to tragedy.

Wayne A. Simpkins's wonderfully intense, frustrated Treplev was a fierce romantic. Karin Clermont's high-spirited, thoughtful Nina revealed the many complexities this role offers. Ray Crisara's expansive, good-natured approach to Trigorin worked very well in tandem with his duplicitous shadow side. Glamorous Rebekkah Oakes lent grandeur, sensitivity and a touching insecurity to the haughty Arkadina.

Nicola Riske's eccentric, high-strung Masha was a courageous study of depression fueled by alcohol and drug abuse. Josh Boggioni as the gentle, put-upon Medvedenko, Masha's unfortunate husband, was heartrending in his devotion to his deranged wife. Martha Lopez Gilpin created a beautifully touching portrait of the unhappily married Polina, desperately searching for a few moments of passion before time runs out. Kevin W. Hauver was a marvellously cavalier Dorn, the object of Polina's affection. Glenn B. Stoops brought empathy to the role of Shamrayev, Polina's cold, unpleasant husband. Lawrence Cioppa added charm and humor to Arkadina's aged brother Sorin as he contemplated the end of his life.

Cabrera's vivid Victorian costumes and accessories added an extra level of reality, and Tom Cavalieri's simple set and creative use of the area in front of the stage enhanced the production's immediacy. Bill Bradford's lights were flattering, but were too dim in the early scenes. Richard G. Brode's original music and piano-playing were elegant and totally appropriate to this luxurious production.
Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Set: 1

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2000 Julie Halpern