Saturday, September 3, 2022

The Seagull by Anton Chekhov

The Seagull is my second Chekhov's play. The Cherry Orchard is the first - and I loved it - and that's why somehow I've expected the first would be, at least, as good as the later. Unfortunayely, I was wrong.

First of all, I don't really like Chekhov's style of focusing on indirect speeches, instead of dramatic actions, in this particular play. If you haven't been familiar with it, it's like when someone wanted to tell you that a character is dead, instead of dramatizing the death scene, he would write a dialog (that is supposed to happen a week after, for instance), casually indicating that that character (X) is dead:

A: "I don't know how we would ever complete this task."
B: "I know, after X's death, I can't seem to handle anything."

You know what I mean, right? I believe it's called 'subtext'. I'm not a fan of it. It makes the play somehow seems vague or dreamy. Add that to the fact that The Seagull is a considerably short play, and, as usual, with its confusing Russian's names and nick names. In short, it's a confusing little piece that I can't really grasp the meaning. What's it all about? I have no clue...

What I remember from the play is, there's a playwright (Konstantin), son of a retired actress, who was desperately trying to make his mother proud of his theatrical talent, but failed. His last attempt was writing and producing an unconventional play - play within play - on a built-in outdoor stage. The audience failed to comprehend his ideas - especially his mother who continuously mocked him. The play was stopped midway, and Konstantin stormed out with humiliation.

Then there's multiple love affairs between the characters. Konstantin loves the actress performed at his play, Nina; but the actress loves another writer, whom is also loved by Konstantin's mother. Meanwhile, Masha loves Konstantin, but she eventually married the schoolmaster who loves her. Meanwhile, Masha's mother is having an affair with a doctor. Really confusing, and with the shortness of the play, I couldn't really relate to their feelings, or even to the main characters.

I haven't talked about the seagull itself. It is an important factor in this play, as it is meant to be a symbol of something - which I didn't get to solve. The gull was shot by Konstantin, and he gave it as a gift to Nina, who was horrified by the sight. Maybe Konstantin isn't really a bad playwright, but he's certainly a bad lover!

All in all, it's not an entertaining play, and now I'm wondering whether I should move on to Chekhov's other major plays? Or should I just bailed on him? What would you recommend?

Rating: 2,5 / 5