The Seagull By Anton Chekhov – Adapted and Directed by Dr. John Reid
23-26 March 2011 Rondo Theatre
It’s a comedy with three female and six male roles, four acts, a landscape (view of a lake), lots of talk about literature, little action and 180 lbs of love.’ This was Chekhov’s light-hearted description of his work-in-progress to a friend in 1895.
But the play dealt with a very old theme, in a new and challenging manner: it was a theme that was very close to Chekhov’s heart at that time, the struggle for personal freedom – within a particular social group, in a particular place, at a particular time. The focus is upon the young and how their most cherished ideals, about love and work and art, are put to the test of time and experience. Chekhov had experienced this struggle himself in an especially acute form. He was very conscious that until he had ‘squeezed the slave out of himself’, his own development as a writer had been hindered by those class feelings of social inferiority. He was increasingly aware that his TB imprisoned him in his own body and inhibited his yearnings for sexual and emotional freedom. How to break free of one’s personal fixations, hang-ups and obsessions – that is the question that the young of any age must face.
The circumstances of Chekhov’s own life demanded extraordinary existential courage but they also enabled him to understand keenly the need for such courage. There is a stoical acceptance that failures will occur, like Konstantin’s suicide, but the true climax of the play is Nina’s rejection of her own fatalism – her courage to be. ‘To me, Nina’s part means everything in the play.’