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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
THE SEAGULL
at the Walter Kerr

HANGING ON BY A THREAD
By SANDY MACDONALD

  Kristen Scott Thomas

In Ian Rickman's splendiferous rendition of The Seagull. imported nearly intact from his 2006 Royal Court Theatre production, Madame Arkadina-whom Kristen Scott Thomas plays as a turbo-charged hybrid of flightiness and steel will- is not the only drama queen. In Christopher Hampton's blunt yet artful adaptation, everyone has a problem to flaunt and seek sympathy for, it's take a number time.

Sorin ( Peter Wright)- Arkadina's elder brother, and her host at this lakeside country retreat-complains bitterly about the dog that's been disturbing his sleep it's a nice ironic counterpoint to his recurrent lament that he has never fully lived ( i.e., he has sleepwalked through his allotment of years). Masha ( Zoe Kazan), that determined malcontent is preemptively "in mourning" for her life, which has scarcely begun. The suitor she initially spurns, the teacher Medvedenko ( Pearce Quigley), is put out by the indignity of poverty. Her true crush, Arkadina's son Konstantin( Mackenzie Crook), resents his actress mother's renown and his own lack of literary accomplishment. Arkadina's catch of a younger lover, the successful writer Trigorin ( Peter Sarsgaard), whines that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be he worries about his place in posterity, and whether he's merely "clever," as critics have complained.

At the outset, the only character not consumed by covetousnness of one kind or another is Nina ( luminous Carey Mulligan), for whom this artsy milieu is a brave new world. She'll pick up the lingua franca of longing soon enough- and incur the consequences. The beauty of Mulligan's portrayal is that her Nina is more passion-swept than dewy- we're carried along by her breathless fascination.

Crook, too, is a revelation as an artist at the larval stage. In this version, Konstantin's over-reaching stab at a play, which opens the larger play, isn't entirely ridiculous he might be onto something. But once his mother scoffs, there's no turning back.

Scott Thomas's Arkadina is not so much a monster of narcissism as a monomaniac hanging on by a thread: her own charisma. She's a control freak camouflaged in corset and fulsome feminine charms. Part of her is genuine ( the stinginess, the fear of diminishing allure), but much is artifice and Scott Thomas bridges the two levels brilliantly.

Newly grafted onto the mostly London-original cast, Sarsgaard, sorry to say, is a cypher so far: more complacent than smug, and sexually null ( Trigorin does prize fishing over almost any other pastime). We need at least some glint of a bad-boy spark to understand his appeal.

That said, is this one of those life-list productions that demand to be seen? Unreservedly, yes.

 


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