Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

The Seagull Flies Across Rodey
UNM Department of Theatre and Dance
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Stephanie's review of Miss Firecracker Contest

Cheyenne Bilbrey
Photo Courtesy of UNM Theatre and Dance Department
It's always a treat when a theatre company reaches back to Chekhov. With The Seagull, we get the first of Anton Chekhov's four major plays. The Seagull was an unusual step forward when it was first produced in 1896. Opening night was a disaster. As the audience voiced its displeasure, Chekhov was backstage wringing his hands. He decided to drop the idea of playwriting altogether. Yet as the run plodded on, it grew in popularity, and when it was staged by Constantin Stanislavski in Moscow two years later, it became a triumph.

The audience at first was likely freaked out by its modern approach to drama, where the meaning is not so much in the words the characters say, but rather in the way they say those words. Like real life. It's this fertile ground that decades later produced Marlon Brando and nearly every actor to come afterwards.

The drama takes place on a country estate in Russia. Everyone is dissatisfied and profoundly disappointed with life. Many characters are in love with someone who loves someone else. Those who are talented are unable to get their creativity to work. Those who are successful have second-rate talent and despise their success. And yet there is cheeriness to this play that is inexplicable. The play presents a lightness even in the face of dark events. Somehow it ends up beautiful.

This UNM production is in pretty good shape. There are always casting oddities with university department productions, but Chekhov comes through loud and clear. The production work is solid. The set by Inseung Park works well even with its weird curtain for the play-within-a-play. The costumes by Kelly Erickson are terrific. And the overall direction by Joe Alberti keeps things light and punchy.

Notable performances come from Gino Gonzales as Boris, Kaitlyn Barlow as the unhappy and drunken Masha, Cheyenne Bilbrey as the lovely Nina, Eboni Thompson as the over-the-top Irina, and Josh Jones as the angst-tortured Konstantin. Alberti makes sure these roles are sufficiently strong to give the production some quiet power.

The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, is a UNM production directed by Joe Alberti. The production runs at Rodey Theatre in the Popejoy Complex through November 15. Performances are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for faculty and seniors, and $10 for staff and students. Tickets are available at all UNM ticket offices, online at, or by calling 925-5858.

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