Chekhov's engaging The Seagull soars into Alice Austin Theatre

Premiering Wednesday, the Alice Austin Theatre in Brodie Hall will host The Seagull, written by 19th century Russian writer Anton Chekhov. Although Chekhov's writing was, for the most part, not appreciated during his time, he is now considered to be one of the great modern dramatists, and The Seagull is widely renowned as his best play.

The modern, visually appealing set of The Seagull can be assumed to have some symbolic importance to the rest of the play. The first act opens on a simple backdrop of neutral and neon colors and geometric lines. White skeleton trees frame a fade-out orange backboard with shadows of leaves playing on its surface. Every space is utilized; every color, line and prop is significant to the play. True to form, professor Melanie Blood has directed a Chekhov play that is highly intellectual, while at the same time maintaining great overall simplicity in both form and structure.

The Seagull plays out like an R.E.M. song: Everybody hurts. While in the opening act it appears as if everyone is bitching their lives away, there is one exception to the whiners. Nina, played by junior Sarah K. E. Rychlik, is a very plain girl in contrast to the rest of the colorful characters. Her purity can be assumed through her top-to-bottom modest, white costume. While others complain superficially about lives that don't seem too awful or problems which aren't incredibly out of the ordinary, Nina desires to have what the others take for granted: fame, love and creative talent. Nina was the only character that seemed promising, and possibly even appreciative of life. Her inability to set herself apart is what made the play ultimately chilling.

The Seagull is, overall, a good show. The characters are convincing, especially at those times of greatest passion. The audience feels their cheeks sting after junior Norma Butikofer's character, Irina, dishes out a fantastically sharp stage slap. The make-out scenes, which alone make the play worth checking out, are incredibly sexy. From the playboy doctor to the waspy-stud writer, all of The Seagull's characters are quite individual, and yet connected to one another in spite of their polar differences. It forces viewers to reexamine their own lives, especially in the context of "the universal world soul," repeatedly mentioned in the play. Can it be just one character then, or are we all just one big scavenging seagull?

The Seagull will be showing March 5 - 9 in Brodie's Alice Austin Theatre at 8 p.m., except on Sunday when the show begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the Brodie Box Office, or may be purchased online at