Assessment | A pleasant ‘Seagull’ with Parker Posey is modernized and performed proper

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NEW YORK — Imitation stands out as the sincerest type of flattery, however imitation with a touch of panache — now that’s much more flattering. Happily, in his up to date reworking of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” playwright Thomas Bradshaw reveals each writerly aptitude and respect for the previous grasp, within the New Group’s deeply pleasurable “The Seagull/Woodstock, NY.”

Bradshaw’s allies on this nervy act — one which I’ve seen tried earlier than, with not fairly this stage of verve — are director Scott Elliott and a skillful forged, headed by Parker Posey. She’s the buoyant actress enjoying the spotlight-hogging stage actress of the story, whose ego is so crushing that even a needy son (incisively portrayed by Nat Wolff) is handled as collateral harm.

Posey proves to be a dream alternative for Irene — Bradshaw’s American model of Chekhov’s Irina Arkadina — a “theater-famous” star who loves reminding visitors at her nation home in shabby-chic Woodstock of her acclaimed performances (a feminine “True West” amongst them). Bradshaw seasons his “Seagull” with humorous, theater-world tidbits, accessible references that gained’t exclude viewers members who don’t curate their very own collections of framed Playbills.

The constant payoff in Elliott’s manufacturing, staged with a pleasingly intentional informality on the Linney Theatre stage at Pershing Sq. Signature Heart, is the care with which Bradshaw sews his personal perceptions into Chekhov’s needlework. Bradshaw, who teaches at Northwestern College, offers rawly in his performs with race and sexuality, typically to a level that may shock the faint of coronary heart. He makes use of the chance in “The Seagull/Woodstock, NY” to each discover and ship up a few of his personal theatrical inclinations, particularly in one among “The Seagull’s” best-known interludes: the yard play that Wolff’s Kevin (Konstantin within the 1896 unique) levels for Irene and her buddies.

That is the scene during which Chekhov channels by way of the ardent younger man a plea for tolerance of “new types” of inventive pursuit. The manifesto is up to date in “The Seagull/Woodstock, NY” to advocate unexpurgated freedom of expression on the stage, together with using racial epithets we don’t communicate and personal acts we have a tendency to not promote. The monologue Kevin creates is recited with amusing earnestness by Nina (a vivacious Aleyse Shannon), the aspiring actress Kevin loves however who, with tragic penalties, doesn’t love him again.

The scene works so effectively as a result of it actually does establish the border of what’s thought of acceptable that Kevin seeks to obliterate. (It does so extra efficiently than many revivals of the traditional.) And it goes an extended technique to defining the poignancy within the play: specifically, the lengths Kevin will naively go to fill the Oedipally challenged void in his life, to realize his mom’s admiration and win Nina’s coronary heart.

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The laid-back rhythms of an arty colony switch effectively from rural Russia to Upstate New York, as do the preoccupations of the woman of the homey manor, her buddies and sycophants. Irene, hyper-conscious of her age and the attraction Nina represents to William (Ato Essandoh), Irene’s novelist-lover with the roving eye, tends to decorate too ostentatiously for the nation (courtesy of the savvy costume designer Qween Jean). There’s an amusing back-and-forth, too, over Irene’s insistence on arriving at a social occasion in a wealthy neighbor’s electrical Bentley. Appearances imply all the pieces to Irene, an comprehensible obsession for an actor however a paralyzing affliction for a delicate son.

Elliott admirably infuses the corporate with a palpable sense of mission. The manufacturing begins earlier than the primary line is spoken, with the actors warming up onstage, providing one another phrases of encouragement, and ends with them breaking into music. The sensation of an genuine ensemble is conveyed throughout the 10-member forged. The memorable turns embrace these by Essandoh; Amy Stiller and Hari Nef, as a know-it-all socialite and her seen-it-all offspring; and David Cale as Irene’s dying brother.

Chekhov himself may need gotten a particular kick on this event, out of how neatly his ever-popular “Seagull” travels to distant locales — how even his musings about a greater life sooner or later are repurposed topically right here. He’d in all probability additionally wish to seize an espresso after the present with Posey, to ask her how she received his late Nineteenth-century character so proper within the twenty first.

The Seagull/Woodstock, NY, by Thomas Bradshaw, tailored from Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” Directed by Scott Elliott. Set, Derek McLane; costumes, Qween Jean; lighting, Cha See; sound, Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen. With Invoice Sage, Patrick Foley, Daniel Oreskes. About 2 hours 40 minutes. By way of April 9 at Pershing Sq. Signature Heart, 480 W. forty second St., New York. thenewgroup.org.

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