Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne have abandoned "Amphitryon," and come to Boston to fill roles, not subordinate but also not outstanding, in Anton Chekhov's "The Sea Gull." An odd assortment of characters, splendidly delineated, are mixed together, and allowed to react. The plot is thus simply a series of their chance encounters and repulsions, and seems devoid of design. The characters are all more or less frustrated, and the events produced out of them are all gloomy. But the play, though discursive and depressing, is packed with incidental dramatic values of great force, and contains several large chunks of fascinating dialogue.
The dramatic values are irony, sudden reversal, and skilful but not subtle symbolism. An example of each will suffice. The mother, a middle-aged actress, but still extremely attractive; superficial and selfish, but capable of deep love, continues to play lotto after her son, sensitive, talented and aimless, has killed himself, she accepting the doctor's assurance that the sound of the shot came from an explosion in his medicine kit. The same mother and son, in traditional Russian fashion curse each other for their respective faults and then fall weeping into each other's arms. A sea gull killed by the young man, is made to stand for the girl he loves, a young, unwise person seduced and made miserable by a bland, second-rate author, the mother's lover.
There are several other important characters, and all are caught in the same web of failure and unrequited love. All are also well acted. The illustrious team play the actress and author, showing their usual excellence. Richard Whorf and Uta Hagen are good in the other two leading roles, but perhaps the young man is rendered too grufily.