Although Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece was first performed in 1896, it wasn’t translated from Russian into English until 13 years later in 1909. A full century later, the dramatic comedy is coming to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, opening this week in a relatively new translation by veteran playwright Tom Stoppard.
When this version of The Seagull was first presented in New York City in 2001, some people waited for 15 hours to purchase tickets. And they weren’t disappointed. According to CSC Artistic Director Brian Isaac Phillips, who is staging the work, “Chekhov’s plays are definitely for actors. The roles are rich and complex, and audiences will remember each character as a fully developed person.”
CSC’s 2007 production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard won a Cincinnati Entertainment Award for best ensemble, and this cast features many of the same performers. Justin McComb is Konstantin, an idealistic young writer; his mother, Irina Arkadina, an actress past her prime, is played by Sherman Fracher. Matt Johnson is her husband, Trigorin, a noted novelist, and Hayley Clark is the young actress Nina whom Konstantin loves.
Presented concurrently with The Seagull is a related work, Steven Dietz’s The Nina Variations, a study on Chekhov’s play’s final scene, offering 42 different versions of how The Seagull might end. This production, which will be presented on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, features the Cincinnati Playhouse’s acting intern company.
Read Tom McElfresh's review of The Seagull here.