I was generously invited to see The Seagull, a new take on the classic Chekhov play starring Trudie Styler, playing at the Lynn Redgrave under the auspices of Culture Project. The latter's mission is "socially conscious theater," and they couldn't have picked a better vintage story to retell if they were looking for something timeless...prescient even.
I couldn't get a date for the play, so was doomed to sit alone. It wasn't a full house (Tuesday night and all) in spite of the play's good reviews, making it all the more obvious that Hugh Fucking Jackman (and his wife) was sitting directly behind me. I took a breath and merely smiled, telling them I loved them as I sat down. They thanked me. Smooth. At least I didn't say, "I believe you when you say you're not gay!"
The play began and I have to say that while I was chewing off every fingernail trying to game out how exactly I'd get a photo with Hugh, I was also riveted by the action in front of me.
Chekhov's story touches on parenting, passion and even the modern invention of fame in ways that speak to modern audiences more so than most works of its period. A supremely assured Trudie Styler is creepily radiant as a self-absorbed theater actress of some repute, whose socially maladjusted, incest-friendly son "Constantine" (Slate Holmgren), but it was Rachel Spencer Hewitt who knocked my socks off as "Lily," an ingenue so taken with a famous hack writer (a splendidly vapid Alan Cox) she trades away her innocence and her future.
Done in two acts, the sparely but inventively staged piece (kudos to director Max Stafford-Clark and to Thomas Kilroy, who adapted it) never fails to engage, never recedes into antiquity in spite of its old-fashioned dialogue and builds to a climax that's depressing enough to make you want to wear black all the time, just like "Mary" (Amanda Quaid).
Check this out while you can—it plays through November 3.
At intermission, I had turned to Hugh and nervously (I'll admit it) asked if he would mind terribly posing for a photo with me. He looked pained but said, "After?" I agreed happily. So when the show ended (and after a rousing round of applause), he asked me, "You have your camera ready?" I did. His publicist took two shots because he blinked on the first one. I thanked him sincerely and mumbled something about Peter Allen. I thought mentioning The Boy from Oz since we were in a theatrical setting would score me some points. I think I could have brought up his Oprah zipline disaster and gotten about as much traction—he was faultlessly polite but was not about to engage me. Fair enough! Got what I wanted and was excited. Also was excited that he would never know all the trash I've talked about his sexuality. (He must not be gay after all...he didn't ask for my number.)
Look, it could've been far worse...I could've grasped his legs and begged, "Master me! Master me!" as happens in the play. But I thought better of it because I didn't want to end up as dead as the titular gull.