Monday, September 29, 2008
Imported from the Royal Court with most of its cast intact, this much-raved-about production of Chekhov's play (the third major Seagull in New York within a year) doesn't even aim for Chekhov's deceptively relaxed pace or for his wise humanity: the directorial concept seems to interpret the characters' unfulfilled, cross-purposed desires as evidence that no one has the slightest genuine connection. The result drains all of the life juices out of the play and cynically turns it into a gathering of sociopaths. Nonetheless there are two spellbinders in the (highly variable) cast: Kristin Scott Thomas gives that rare brand of performance that is technically precise and yet seemingly natural at every moment. And Carey Mulligan is stunning in the famously difficult part of Nina, captivating from radiant start to wounded finish.