Chekov comes to the Karachi stage
Anton Chekhovâ€™s brilliant masterpiece â€˜The Seagullâ€™ was staged at Arts Council where marvellous characters showed how twist and turns of fate lead a loving couple to tragic end.
The play was written in 1896 and is set in a rural Russian house, a place near the lake and some old trees. The plot focuses on the romantic and artistic conflicts among an eclectic group of characters; the interaction slowly leads to an oral and spiritual disintegration of each of them and which ultimately leads to the tragic end. The cast and crewmembers of Napa Theatre did full justice to their roles and under the direction of Zia Mohyuddin gave a commendable performance.
The plot revolves around the lives of four characters, the ing_nue Nina (brilliantly played by Aiman Tariq), the fading actress Irina Arkadina (the commanding Bakhtawar Mazhar), her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Treplyov (young and enthusiastic Saquib Khan), and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin (inacted by the charming Rahat Kazmi).
The play takes place on a country estate owned by Sorin (the gentle old man ), a former government employee with falling health. He is the brother of the famous actress Arkadina, who has just arrived at the estate with her lover, Trigorin, for a brief vacation. In Act I, the people staying at Sorinâ€™s estate gather to see a silly play that Arkadinaâ€™s son Konstantin has written and directed. The play-within-a-play stars Nina, a young girl who lives on a neighbouring estate, as the â€œsoul of the world.â€
The play is his latest attempt at creating a new theatrical form, and resembles a dense symbolist work. Arkadina laughs at the play, finding it ridiculous and incomprehensible, while Konstantin storms off in disgrace. Act I also sets up the playâ€™s many romantic triangles.
The schoolteacher Medvedenko loves Masha (Naila Jaffrey), the daughter of the estateâ€™s steward. Masha, in turn, is in love with Konstantin, who is courting Nina. When Masha tells the kindly old doctor Dorn about her longing, he helplessly blames the moon and the lake for making everybody feel romantic.
Act II takes place in the afternoon outside of the estate, a few days later. After reminiscing about happier times, Arkadina engages the house steward Shamrayev in a heated argument and decides to leave immediately. Nina lingers behind after the group leaves, and Konstantin shows up to give her a seagull that he has shot. Nina is confused and horrified at the gift. Konstantin sees Trigorin approaching, and leaves in a jealous fit. Nina asks Trigorin to tell her about the writerâ€™s life. He replies that it is not an easy one. Nina says that she knows the life of an actress is not easy either, but she wants more than anything to be one. Trigorin sees the seagull that Konstantin has shot and muses on how he could use it as a subject for a short story: â€œA young girl lives all her life on the shore of a lake. She loves the lake, like a seagull, and sheâ€™s happy and free, like a seagull. But a man arrives by chance, and when he sees her, he destroys her, out of sheer boredom. Like this seagull.â€