La MaMa, Manhattan

By Andrew Andrews

Ben Beckley, Marvin Bell, Nehassaiu deGannes, Jax Jackson, Christopher Hurt, Anna Abhau Elliott and Elena McGhee in Seagullmachine. Original photo by Theo Cote.

I think there are two kinds of people in this world: those who pretend to like the work of Anton Chekhov... and the rest of us. I remember sitting through Uncle Vanya a while back, struggling to stay engaged, while my date sat on the edge of their seat, leaning in, as though hanging on every word, then gushed about the performance afterward. Needless to say, I am no longer on speaking terms with that person.

A few years later, I was attending Title:Point Salon! at Silent Barn in Bushwick. One of the acts was a young lady (probably Caitlin Bebb) who subjected us to a Chekhovian presentation on improving our financial situation. I describe it as such because it was haphazard at best: the presenter seemed to wing it, completely unprepared, and wholly-unqualified to give such a speech. It lasted only a few minutes, but those few minutes were sheer torture to sit through. And then, when she couldn’t put us through this hell of a self-help seminar any longer, she pulled out a bottle of chocolate syrup, a can of whipped cream and a jar of cherries, and poured them all over her head and smeared the mess all over her body. I turned to the person I came with, and they turned to me, and our eyes simultaneously opened wide with that look of “WTF!”

Now that, my friends, was a connection! And it was the kind of performance that made Title:Point Salon! completely worth trekking out to Bushwick, and the reason I kept returning to Silent Barn to take chances with their avant garde programming. And although not every visit provided such a payoff, the potential was enough to keep me going back.

LaMama is a lot like that—we’ve mentioned our past experiences with their experimental theatre in our five-star review of Gemini Stars/Scorpio Stars— and SEAGULLMACHINE is exactly that kind of show. You’ll sit through nearly two hours of Chekhov’s The Seagull pining for the tedium to end, and then something miraculous, something completely unexpected, something redeeming will happen, and it will all have been worth the effort. It’s like working tons and tons of overtime and then finally receiving an annual bonus that pays off your mortgage. It’s like enduring a twenty-hour plane ride to begin the vacation of a lifetime. It’s like sitting through an incredibly dull dinner date that ends up taking you home for the best sex you’ve ever had. Because sometimes, to really appreciate how good something is, you gotta suffer through hell to achieve it. The best part is, you don’t have to trek out to Bushwick! So check out this mash-up of Chekhov, Heiner Müller and The Assembly’s own grand finale, then come back here and tell us it was toooootally worth it. Whether you were hanging on the edge of your seat the entire time or the play merely redeems itself in the end, your review can help others appreciate what they’re in store for, and your ratings help us help you find future theatrical experiments you’re sure to love!

Andrew Andrews attended SEAGULLMACHINE at La MaMa in Manhattan on Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 8:00pm to write this review.