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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Seagull (1975)

In late 19th century Russia, a group of people gather on a country estate including a famous actress (Lee Grant), her writer lover (Kevin McCarthy), her artistic son (Frank Langella), her brother (William Swetland) who is in ill health, a young girl (Blythe Danner) with ambitions to be an actress, a doctor (Louis Zorin), the estate manager (George Ede), his wife (Olympia Dukakis), their daughter (Marian Mercer) and a school teacher (David Clennon). Based on the 1896 play by Anton Chekhov and directed by John J. Desmond. Considered by many to be Chekhov's masterpiece, this is an uneven production but the acting is mostly good and in one case, exceptional. Kevin McCarthy makes for a rather dull Trigorin, he can't seem to muster either a writer's passion nor the casual cruelty that can destroy a girl's life. Langella is a bit too old for Konstantin but that aside, he gives a solid performance and Lee Grant as Arkadina gets to the core of the actress's self absorption. The stand out performance is given by Blythe Danner who makes for a splendid Nina going from tremulous and fragile to ravaged and unraveled. A great play that could have used a more delicate hand to unlock the subtext of Chekhov's dialog. Still, this is a production worth seeing. 

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