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Monthly Archives: January 2012

‘The Seagull’: The art of unrequited love

MET seeks the humor and entertainment in Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull.’

BY ROBERT TRUSSELL

The Kansas City Star

Director Karen Paisley summarizes Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” this way: sex, death, love and marvelous clothes.

This week the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre opens the first local professional production of a play by the Russian dramatist in 11 years.

Yes, the denizens of Chekhov’s plays are miserable. But they can also be funny. Chekhov, who died in 1904 at the age of 44, considered “The Seagull” a comedy, and the translation Paisley chose — by British playwright Tom Stoppard — certainly reads funny on the printed page.

“One of the things we always talk about is, you gotta find the funny,” Paisley said. “Nobody’s interested in coming to the theater for two hours of wrist-slitting. … These great plays are like that. You can approach them as if they are sacred text. But I don’t think the playwrights ever intended for them to be that.”

[…]

Paisley has put together an impressive creative team for this show. Scenic designer Jason Coale, who has built sets for the Unicorn and the New Theatre, among other companies, has designed his first scenery for the MET since creating a visually striking set for the company’s production of “Copenhagen” in 2008. Newcomer Shannon Smith designed the “marvelous clothes.”

And the cast would be considered exceptional by any theater company in town.

Cheryl Weaver, last seen delivering a powerhouse performance in KC Rep’s “August: Osage County,” plays Irina Arkadina, the fading actress. Forrest Attaway, who has chalked up a series of fine performances at the MET and the Living Room, plays Trigorin, the novelist. Robert Gibby Brand, whose performances at the MET have been exceptional across the board, plays Dorn, a doctor. The excellent Richard Alan Nichols appears as Sorin, Irina’s brother and owner of the estate.

The big cast also includes MET veterans Alan Tilson and Nancy Marcy as the estate manager and his wife, and a group of younger actors who demand our attention: Coleman Crenshaw, Ashlee LaPine, Chris Roady and Jessica Franz.

Read more of Robert Trussell’s preview at The KC Star

The Seagull opens Friday, Jan 13th at 7:30pm at The Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre and runs until Jan 29th.  Catch a preview performance Thursday (Jan 12) at 7:30!

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