BWW Review: THE SEAGULL by Dulaang UP

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By Precious Lee Cundangan

Manila, Philippines, October 7, 2012 - Dulaang UP (DUP) has recently presented the English and Filipino translations of Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull," which evokes thoughtful discussions about life, ambition, love, and art in a manner devoid of melodrama.

There were funny moments in the play delivered by its stellar cast: Ana Abad Santos and Frances Makil-Ignacio both played the fading actress Irina Arkadina; Santos and Ignacio's no-nonsense, often exaggerated portrayal of Irina had impeccable timing and winsome charm.

Other cast members Ces Quesada and Stella Cañete as Polina, Jaime Yambao and Ces Aldaba as Shamraev, and William Manzano and Jerson Guiwa as Medvedenko had their respective shining moments on stage with their simple quips, gestures, and nuances. 

Even though actor Zafrullah Masahud started off too bland and monotonous, he was able to eventually provide enough angst and despair required by his character, Konstantin.

Under the expert eye of multi-awarded, renowned theater director and DUP founder Tony Mabesa, "The Seagull" was presented in a new, refreshing version for today's audiences. Mabesa's direction was seamless and exquisite. 

The historically accurate production design by set designer Ohm David, costume designer Eric Pineda, and stylist Christian Alvarado had allowed the audience to travel back in time, in 19th century Russia.

The sound effects and musical score by sound designer Jethro Joaquin added more facets of Russian culture to the play.

Kudos should also go to lighting designer Meliton Roxas Jr.

Chekhov, who broke both theater and literary forms, and melodramatic norms of the late 19th century, masterfully crafted this play; "The Seagull" was one of his most popular works, which continues to captivate global audiences with its beauty, humanity, and compelling plot.

"The Seagull" opened at Alezandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1896. Unfortunately, the play's world premiere was an epic failure.

Producer Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and stage director Konstantin Stanislavsky, who both founded the Moscow Art Theatre (MAT), had convinced Chekhov to restage the production under MAT's wing that became highly successful; in honor of that major feat, MAT's logo resembles a seagull.

Photos by Dale Bacar

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