I could not have been more pleased to catch the opening night performance of The Seagull as my kick-off to this year's Master Playwright festival. Under the clever direction of Krista Jackson, the cast spark and bubble through the story, finding the beautiful notes of humour mixing among the boredom and melancholy that permeates these characters' lives. What I found most notable was the relevance Jackson was easily able to draw out of the text compared to contemporary life; these characters are rendered helpless by their ideal selves, constantly performing the version of themselves they want to be, despite the harsh reality that their lives are not what they make them out to be. Glimmers of recognition rippled through the audience as we recognized this very trait among contemporary society obsessed with material goods, outward appearance, and social media, while never truly connecting.
The cast are well matched; Sharon Bajer is a comic-tragic gem as she plays the melodramatic actress Irina, while Bethany Jillard's Nina is frighteningly naieve. Tom Keenan's Kostya is strong, although I felt some moments could have used refinement and a more simple touch.
I would be remiss not to discuss the design, which craftily created differing spaces that were simultaneously lush and minimalist; the outdoor garden scene was particularly notable for its clever use of lighting. And the sound design, with a rock-polka feel definitely contributed positively to reminding us that these characters, although aristocratic, are not the "ideal" humans of tragedy, but the flawed and simple beings who populate the comedy of every day life.