Preview: The Seagull

The Art Theater of Davis stages The Seagull at a cemetery

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Photo courtesy of Art Theater of Davis

The Seagull; 7 p.m. April 7-April 9 and May 6-9; no cover, but donations are accepted. Davis Cemetery Arboretum, 820 Pole Line Road in Davis;

Talk about a novel concept. The ambitious Art Theater of Davis will stage five performances Anton Chekhov’s classic play The Seagull this week—outdoors, under the full moon, in the Davis Cemetery’s arboretum. The unusual setting should make for a unique experience, says Tim Nutter, the theater’s artistic director.

“We think the cemetery can be a great venue,” Nutter said. “We’re arranging to set up seating risers and theater chairs out on the lawn so that people will have a comfortable place from which to watch the play.”

This 1896 Russian classic notably mixes comedy and drama, bringing to life a dozen contrasting, conflicted characters on a country estate. The degree to which the play is ultimately “funny” and/or “sad” has been debated from the very first, which was the playwright’s intention.

“Let the things that happen onstage be just as complex and yet just as simple as they are in life,” Chekhov wrote of his dramatic technique.

Admission is free but donations will be accepted. The production is co-sponsored by the Davis Cemetery, which hosts a variety of artistic events, and supported by a city grant.

Those interested in a different take on the iconic play, take note: Purely by coincidence, Sacramento’s Capital Stage is set to produce a new comedy billed as a “21st Century remix” of The Seagull. Playwright Aaron Posner’s Stupid F##ing Bird drew praise during its Off Broadway run in 2016, and the Capital Stage production will mark its local premiere. Look for it May 3 though June 4.