SEAGULL at Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley, CA
Friday, February 18th, Show #8.
After my nearly month long gap in theatre going, I was happy to go right back to another stage tonight to see Seagull (sic; no “The”) at the Marin Theatre Company. MTC seems to be on a roll this year, having hit a home run, economically and artistically, with their season premiere In The Red and Brown Water and just getting better from there.
This show continues the trend of high standards and high quality. But I want to spend some time thinking about it more. I don’t consider myself a super scholar/follower of Chekhov, even though the company I work with has often been praised for its explorations with Anton. If anything, I’m starting to see the themes and parallels in his work. The Seagull shares much in common with Three Sisters, a play I produced with Porchlight two years ago. Thematically, they are somewhat identical, which may have been an intentional and art from life choice by the playwright.
This new adaptation by Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Libby Appel (and featuring several OSF company members) placed an emphasis on warm storytelling. I was captivated by the use of music and staging in the first two acts to draw the audience into the story. At the same time, I was drawing parallels to the homage A Seagull in the Hamptons, which was my last encounter with the story at Shotgun Players last year.
I lost my focus with the story in Act 3, and I’m not sure if it was because of the older man snoring in the seat next to me or my own moderate level of tiredness at the end of this week. Thankfully, my mind allowed me to listen back to the stage as time passed in the story and it worked its way to a sudden, but appropriate, conclusion.
I’ll reflect briefly on that odd, trance-like state that sometimes envelops me, and possibly other audience members, if a play doesn’t hold my focus. Where does it come from? Is it something about the low lighting? The time of day? The things I’ve done that day? It never seems to happen to me anywhere else.