Friday, September 20, 2013

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey Method to their Madness

Hurry to the Modern Theatre, next to the Paramount downtown, because the Harbor Stage Company has brought its lovely, quirky, condensed production of THE SEAGULL to Boston for this weekend only (through Sept. 22nd).

If you’re expecting languorous, reverential Chekhov, director Robert Kropf’s adaptation is not. In fact, if it were not for the mention of Moscow, you might think it takes place in America. Kropf jettisons subtext (and several characters) for a visceral, transparent emotional energy which drives (and dooms) the characters. The acting, especially, is more contemporary than the usual stylized elegance we’ve come to associate (mistakenly, I think) with Chekhov.

Everyone wears his heart on his sleeve, making Kropf’s adaptation a lot funnier than some (and Chekhov did insist that all his plays were comedies) and a lot brasher than most. See it for Brenda Withers’ conniving, imperious actress, mother to the tortured young writer, played with twitchy, feral intensity by Alex Pollock. See it for Stacy Fischer’s hilarious turn as the depressed Masha, “dragging her life behind her.”

Masha is hopelessly in love with the actress’ son but he is in love with someone else who’s in love with someone else who’s…. They all are, except for the doctor, portrayed by Lewis D. Wheeler as an eminently sensible chap who finds all the intrigue amusing.

The summer residents suffer from the heat and the boredom and the pain of rejection. Jonathan Fielding as the famous poet is tired of writing and weary of his lover’s histrionics when an earnest, innocent creature, played with sweet fragility by Amanda Collins, takes an interest in him. He fans the flame and the delicate balance of relationships, never steady in the first place, begins to tip.