The Irish tunes, names and brogues are startling, at least for a while, in this "Seagull" transplanted from Chekhov's late 19 century Russia to Galway during a time of comparable peasant unrest. Before long, however, Max Stafford-Clark's modest but intelligently cast revival of Thomas Kilroy's 1981 adaptation does a weirdly remarkable thing. It stays Chekhov while becoming something somewhere else.
The news in the production is Trudie Styler, a theater-bred actress who need not be forever identified as Mrs. Sting. She has chosen quite a challenge with which to introduce herself to the New York stage. She plays Irina, here called Isobel, the vain, aging actress whose return home disrupts life on the country estate. Styler has a deep, expressive voice that rises as a surprise from a face that suggests country club more than gravity. She seems to be playacting when imperious, but finds a genuine presence in both the ache and the comedy.
WHAT "The Seagull"
WHERE Culture Project, 45 Bleecker St.
INFO $25-$99; 212-352-3101; cultureproject.org
BOTTOM LINE Modest, weird but intelligent Irish Chekhov