Theater: Arcane Framing a Seagull

by Anton Chekhov

Twelve chipped and scarred chairs are the only furniture. The walls are suggested by mottled backdrops resembling abstract paintings, with jagged window-like spots cut out and covered with wire mesh. A young amateur's play- within-a-play, supposedly taking place in the night air of this retreat in the Russian countryside, turns into a laser show that drags viewers' eyes to the theater ceiling. Naturalistic scenes are interrupted by speeches snarled at the audience, by Scriabin piano works played onstage and by dimly lit, nap- length silences.

What does this self-conscious display have to do with Chekhov's The Seagull? On the whole, not...

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