To say that human relationships are complicated is an understatement.
In the new film, The Seagull, based on the Anton Chekhov play of the same name, Irina (Annette Bening) is an aging actress whose current significant other is Boris (Corey Stoll), a younger writer who is one of the most recognized writers in the country. Irina takes Boris to meet her brother, Sorin (Brian Dennehy), who lives on a country estate and is in poor health. Irina’s son, Konstantin (Billy Howle) lives with his uncle and wants to be a playwright. He is also in a relationship with Nina (Saoirse Ronan), a young girl from a neighboring estate. Nina develops a girlish infatuation for Boris, but he rejects her as Irina rejects her son.
I know nothing about Chekhov or his work. My review, therefore, is strictly based on the movie. The reason for seeing the movie was the cast. The problem with this movie is that while the cast is excellent, the narrative is slow and I found it hard to connect to the story.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
When we are children, we think that by the time we reach middle age, we will have everything figured out. Then we grow up and learn that some of us never figure everything out.
In Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Vanya (Jim Incorvaia) and Sonia (Sheree Joseph) are a middle-aged brother and sister duo. Sonia is forever going on and on about the fact that she was adopted. Their lazy lifestyle is financed by their sister Masha (Heidi Hecker), a movie star whose career and love life both taking a hit. Reeling from a 5th divorce, Masha returns home with a much younger Spike (Brian Shaw), a himbo who thinks with his lower appendage more than he thinks with his brain. Planning on selling the house, Masha receives protests from Sonia, Vanya and Cassandra (Asami Tsuzuki), the cleaning woman who speaks in a weird prophetic language. The final character in this mix is Nina (Kelly Schmidt), a young woman who is visiting relatives next door who wants to be an actress and fawns over Masha.
I must state two disclaimers before I go further. The first is that I did not see the Broadway production (which is the video above), I saw a local community theater production. The second is that I’m not really familiar with Anton Chekhov, whose work is heavily referenced in this play. Many of the references were well over my head. My problem with this play is that the first act does not really go anywhere narrative wise. By the time narrative becomes more interesting in the second act, I found that I did not care about these characters or their story.
Do I recommend it? No.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is playing at the The Merrick Theater & Center For Performing Arts until March 19th, 2017. The Merrick Theater & Center For Performing Arts is located at 2222 Hewlett Ave in Merrick, NY.