The Seagull was one of the first full length plays written by Anton Chekhov. It astounded it's first audiences by having no discernable lead character, in a time when melodrama was the popular form of theatre. The play follows the goings on, on a country estate in Russia, over two years. It is owned by the ageing Sorin, and he is joined by his celebrated actress sister, Arkardina, her son and their friends. Everyone is in love with some-one else in this 'slice-of life' comedy. The 'Seagull' of the title pertains to a bird shot in the second act by Arkardina's neurotic son, Konstantin. He is in love with the local landowners daughter, Nina. She performs in a play which Konstantin has written. However, when she meets Arkardina's lover (a famous writer by the name of Trigorin) she falls deeply in love with him, and by the third act, they have begun an affair. Konstantin tries to shoot himself, but is unsuccessful at first. He struggles throughout the play to be recognised as a writer by his mother, who takes very little notice of him.
The Seagull has a strange mix of tragedy and comedy. The humour comes from human foibles, and the clash of characters, rather than witty lines. By the end of this ensemble play, you're not sure whether to laugh of cry.