I saw the mostly terrific Royal Court production of The Seagull yesterday afternoon, at the Walter Kerr. At the intermission my actor friend and I were talking about the play; this was my third Seagull in a year (fourth, counting the 1968 film version), and we got on to talking about the famous gunshot that closes the show (I think the Classic Stage Company version added another one). When the show ended, and the cast had completed their curtain call, a woman sitting in front of us turned around and hissed that we had spoiled the show for her by revealing the ending.
OK, The Seagull may not be as familiar to everyone as, say, Hamlet (everyone--but it's not The Sixth Sense, either, or an episode of 24. Chekhov wasn't writing a thriller 113 years ago. I responded, “Say what? This is a century-old play. A stage classic. It’s beyond spoiling at this point.” “Well, I haven’t read it in a while,” she huffed.
Like she ever had. She was there to see Kristin Scott Thomas and Peter Sarsgaard, and who knows, UK Office and Pirates of the Caribbean star Mackenzie Crook, in a transatlantic "event" to be dished with the ladies who lunch (color me impressed if she's a fan of the show's affecting Nina, Carey Mulligan, who I recognized from the bone-chilling Doctor Who episode Blink. Whatever. But, girlfriend, The Seagull has been flapping around the boards since 1895, so don't be surprised if fellow theatergoers talk it up. And don't listen in to other people's conversations, just because you had a mummy as your escort. (Her husband stared vacantly into space the whole time of the exchange, the way husbands do when their wives make a scene.)
It was a press day, and I could hear folks around us snickering at her offense. But, point taken. If you see me at a revival of Three Sisters, and want to know if those gals made it to Moscow, mum's the word.