Antaeus Theater Company sets flight With Chekhov’s The Seagull
by Angela Imperial
pLAywriting in the city
Antaeus, the award winning classical theater ensemble and academy that call the Deaf West Theater in North Hollywood home, have kicked off their 2012 season with Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Penned by one of the greatest Russian playwrights of all time, director Andrew J. Traister guides the actors through this theatrical classic. Taking Paul Schmidt’s crisp translation of a play filled with unrequited love, jealousy, and wicked humor, Traister put together a wonderful cast. Antaeus traditionally double-casts all of their productions allowing their actors to continue with their lives outside the theater, this production of The Seagull is double-cast consisting of 23 actors with 12 speaking roles. Traister purposely cast polar opposites for each character, adding more dimension to each performance. This method also proves successful to the actors involved, allowing them to contribute to each others growth of the shared characters.
With a Monet inspired backdrop, wonderful costumes and antique furniture setting the stage, the actors embark on personal journeys resulting in elegant chaos. The audience watches a delicate Treplev, a slightly successful writer, as he jockeys for his mother’s attention and acceptance. The dashing Antonio Jaramillo, one of the few Latino members of Antaeus, plays Treplev. The character is also facing the stark reality that he is losing ground on many levels of his life including the affections of Nina, a young woman desperate to be a famous actress. The strikingly beautiful Jules Wilcox depicts a tragically lost soul as Nina, playing her with a subtle fragility that leaves your heart breaking when the cards of fate reveal their losing hand. Gigi Bermingham’s witty portrayal of the insensitive, narcissistic and famous Arkadina, Treplev’s mother and ultimate downfall, is rich with comedy and timely sarcasm. Joanna Strapp lights up the stage with her hilariously clever version of Masha, a woman who dresses in black because she is “in mourning for her life” as she is yearning for Treplev’s affection. Trigorin, a well-established writer who succumbs to his desires for Nina, leading her down a twisted road comes to life in the hands of the charmingly handsome Adrian LaTourelle. One aspect of the production that stood out was the lack of accents, however no accents is much more enjoyable than potentially unbelievable ones.
Playwright Anton Chekhov’s work is a master of classical theater and Antaeus is one of the masters of classical theater in Los Angeles, proving so with the exemplary production of The Seagull. The stellar cast shows how Chekhov should be performed, with grace, class and witty timing. This is a lovely production worth supporting.
The Seagull at Antaeus Theater Company, March 1 to April 15th, 2012 with performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For reservations or more information call 818-506-1983 or www.antaeus.org