If the change in the weather has got you down (like me), why not whisk yourself away to a beautiful lakeside cottage with Soulpepper’s production of The Seagull? This new version by playwright Simon Stephens takes Chekhov’s work to new heights, giving the play even more meta theatrics and a modern feel; I felt like it was seeing the play for the first time all over again. Directed by Daniel Brooks, this is certainly a production you do not want to miss.

It’s always a treat to see one of Chekhov’s works performed live, his characters are fun and memorable and his stories are filled with the intense emotions we’ve come to expect from Russian literature. To see a production like The Seagull which still has all of this at its core, yet somehow feels new and exciting is truly a thrill. Because The Seagull is a play which focuses heavily on writing, both theatre and novels, I appreciated the meta theatricality of this production even more. From the first moment to the last, throught cleverly added lines and set changes being done in full view, the audience is not allowed to forget that they are watching a performance.

Providing this performance is an all-star cast of actors. Paolo Santalucia gives a stunning and emotional performance as Konstantin. Santalucia dives deep into this character, showing the audience the wells of pain and longing inside of him. Hailey Gillis plays Nina with such beautiful earnestness and heart. When Nina reappears at the end of the play, Gillis feels barely recognizable compared to the youthful, sweet girl at the beginning; a true testament to her talent. Ellie Ellwand delivers a fantastic performance as Masha; aloof one moment and crying the next, Ellwand’s performance runs the gamut of human emotion and she navigates it beautifully. Michelle Monteith provides a perfectly overdramatic Irina; she gives Irina this incredible energy and power which makes her electric on stage. Rahul Bhaneja plays Irina’s love Boris, a famous author. Bhaneja makes Boris understandable and relatable in a fundamentally human way. Rounding out The Seagull’s cast of characters are Oliver Denis, Farhang Ghajar, Randy Hughson, Diego Matadors, Dan Mousseau, and Robyn Stevan. They all bring joy and light to their characters; in true Chekhovian fashion, their bright personalities and humour stand in direct contrast to the gloom of the main family.

The Seagull must close on May 7th, and I guarantee you that you don’t want to miss this epic piece of theatre. Incredible performances and a text that feels like it was written today combine into an enchanting night of theatre. For more information and tickets, visit: https://www.soulpepper.ca/performances/the-seagull

Cast photo by Dahlia Katz


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