The Bird Killer produced by LMI (Let Me In) Theatre is playing at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace as part of the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival. This modern adaptation of Anton Chekov‘s famous play The Seagull, utilizes Chekov’s classic characters to re-examine what true love really looks like.
Brutally natural. Beautifully real. Soothingly rich. All phrases that jump to the front of my mind when describing Justine Christensen’s gender-bent, modern interpretation of The Seagull. From the minute you enter Tarragon’s mainspace, you are subtly immersed into the minds of two of the passionate lovers of the impending series of misfortunes; the black-box style appearance of the venue only furthering the artistic elegance of the piece.
Christensen’s adaptation was structured around the symbol of the seagull and the theme of painful love. With the help of director, Patrick J. Horan, these original Chekov ideas were perfectly adapted into a modern context. With the character of Nina still being the elusive seagull, theatre enthusiasts are able to enjoy a timeless classic, while taking in an almost brand new narrative.
I can’t speak highly enough of all six ensemble members of this show as they all appeared to be suffering along with their character’s heartache. Evan MacKenzie’s portrayal of Nina was quirky and stupidly good. His mannerisms and idolization of Trigorin was infectious. Perhaps the most impressive part was his ability to act like a bad actor in Kostya’s failure of a show while being a very good one in the overall piece.
Mackenzie’s best scenes were those with Tymika Tafari, playing the seemingly irresistible Trigorin. Her unique cadence and pointed self-reflection mirrored that of Mackenzie’s Nina. Tafari was able to strike a balance between confidence and knowingly flawed. This was unexpectedly refreshing amongst a world of straight forward characters in most shows.
Other standout performances saw Mo Zeighami drive herself and the audience insane through her wildly mesmerizing portrayal of Kostya. Lastly, Subhash Santosh broke through the dark subject matter and delivered some memorable anecdotes.
Speaking specifically about the scene where Kostya shoots the seagull: it was gorgeous. The way Zeighami pushed back the ones she loved only to have Nina, her boyfriend turn around to give her the seagull was such a powerful way of staging that moment. I commend the direction of Horan as well as the possible influence of movement coach, Desirée Leverenz on their vision for this piece.
In terms of lighting, costumes and props, the show hit the mark on every element. The smaller pools of light as well as the natural light coming from on-stage fixtures made for many intimate moments. The costumes proved to be the most obvious modern tweak. Each character’s change between first outfit and second outfit revealed just how much or how little each of them had changed over a year and a half. Lastly, the use of a Macbeth passage made for a very telling piece of script, but also a great allusion through prop use.
The Bird Killer‘s cast and crew delivered on all accounts with such a truthful, jagged story about how love, unfortunately, often works. With every artistic choice building on the next, this show comes highly recommended to anyone willing to laugh, to escape, and to most importantly learn about Seagulls. We all have a few seagulls in our lives, try not to feed them.
- The Bird Killer plays at The Tarragon Theatre – Mainspace.(30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Full price tickets are $13.00
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are very rarely admitted
- This show is rated (PG) Parental guidance advised and features gun shots and mature language
- This venue is accessible. Assisted hearing devices are also available.
- Wednesday July 4th, 22:45 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 12:00 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 05:00 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 08:15 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 12:00 pm
- Friday July 13th, 09:15 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 03:30 pm
Photo of The Cast of The Bird Killer (Emerjade Simms, Tymika Tafari, Subhash Santosh, Mo Zeighami, Evan MacKenzie, Michael Ricci) by Patrick J. Horan