Manassas Journal Messenger | Vpstart Crow’s ‘The Seagull’ drama falls flat
Tangled strings of hopeless love weave throughout Vpstart Crow’s current production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” playing at the Cramer Center.
Set in 19th century Russia, “The Seagull” is a melancholy tale of those broken hearted over love unreciprocated. Dressed in black, drinking heavily and snorting snuff, Masha (Melissa McConnell) silently longs for suicidal playwright Konstantin (Rodger S. Graham Jr.), who wants nothing more than to be with Nina (Allison Plourde), the aspiring actress from his failed production.
As relationships intertwine, Nina falls for acclaimed author Trigorin (William Cook) who is coupled with Konstantin’s famous mother Irina (Pamela Berthold).
Although interesting in concept, “The Seagull” falls short upon first notes and never regains footing. Whether running long in dialogue or losing crowd interest in a bland storyline, the pieces of “Seagull” don’t fit into an enjoyable getaway you’d expect from a classic.
The talented 11-player cast is forceful and passionate even while outnumbering the audience. Most notable is the commanding performance by former soap opera actress Pamela Berthold. Poised and powerful with every line belted, her experience is evident and it’s hard not to imagine her on the small screen in an over-the-top daytime drama.
Also holding her own is McConnell in her dark and ominous role. Unafraid as an outsider, she balances strength and fragility in the face of heartache. McConnell may play a plain Jane onstage, but her natural flair for quietly stealing a scene is anything but ordinary.
Despite admirable performances, the only other standout aspect of “Seagull” is the period appropriate costume designs. The women in elaborate dresses and men in classic attire, their outfits outshine the basic set of old furniture and a makeshift playhouse.
Without enough bite for the buck, “Seagull’s” lackluster production and at times tedious direction grow old fast. Broken into four acts, expectations of a comeback in the final hour unfortunately go unfulfilled.
WHEN YOU GO
* “The Seagull,” presented by Vpstart Crow
* Through Oct. 22; showtimes: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
* The Cramer Center, 9008 Center St., Manassas
* Tickets: $15 to $20
* (703) 365-0240 or Vpstartcrow.com