Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
The 19th-century Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's classic drama The Seagull continued a theatrical movement known as "realism," which focused on the everyday crises and foibles of more believably real people. In order to perform the roles of the new dramatic movement properly, the Actors Theater of Moscow refined a new style of acting, later synthesized under Konstantin Stanislavsky, and known in the U.S. as "method acting." Thus Chekhov's plays represent a theatrical peak to be scaled, and are challenging somewhat in the manner of Shakespeare's or Moliere's plays. This lavish Soviet Russian production attempts to scale that summit. The story concerns an actress, Arkadina (Alla Demidova) who is distressed by the complexity of her life, and of the lives of her friends and family. All the people around her are consumed by self-doubt and dark obsessions, which they discuss at length. Her lover, Tregorin (Yuri Yakovlev), is a self-important but renowned writer who is playing psychological tricks on a simple country girl who has a crush on him. Her son, a playwright, is fascinated by death and may be suicidal.