Nice Write Up in Washington Post Express

Converting the Classics: Theater J’s The Seagull
Express from The Washington Post – Washington,DC, USA
Posted By Fiona Zublin at 12:00 AM on July 9, 2009  

Converting the Classics: Theater J’s The Seagull

THEATER J has become one of D.C.’s most ambitious venues when it comes to world premieres of plays. And with good reason: There aren’t many chestnuts that encompass the Jewish experience in a serious way. 

This time, it’s taken one of theater’s best-known works — Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” — and injected it with references to Judaism. “The Seagull on 16th Street” is a new, vibrant translation. The bones of Chekhov’s story are undeniably brilliant, but the religion aspect piled atop the play’s original themes feels superfluous. Artistic director Ari Roth has assembled a wonderful cast, from scene-stealing stagehand Jason McCool to D.C. veteran Naomi Jacobson, whose comic timing has never been better.

“The Seagull on 16th Street” adheres to Chekhov’s plot, which follows a young man, Treplev (Alexander Strain), who hopes to create a modern, meaningful theater. His mother (Jacobson) is a famous actress, but he struggles to get away from her and what he sees as her useless theater. He’s in love with a young symbol of goodness named Nina (Veronica del Cerro), who falls for his mother’s boyfriend, a famous novelist (Jerry Whiddon).

Treplev is a wonderful metaphor for modern youth: He’s young, wealthy and smart, with too many choices in life and not enough mettle to make his own way. He sees people as symbols, and it eventually destroys him.