In the Seagull, against a backdrop of the artistic endeavour, a complex web of unrequited love unravels within a household of bourgeois Russians plagued with overarching passions and a malaise that seems to dog them all.
It is Chekhov’s hardest play to get right and the inherent stupor is not helped by Charlotte Pyke, John Kerr and Joseph Blatchley’s new version which continually sinks into the kind of modern day banal ‘etc. etc.’ repetitions to end each sentence, only adding to the feeling that even they are bored of the sound of their own voices.
there are occasional flashes of something real and alive, raising the stagnant humidity only to be shot down immediately
For some this ennui could be construed as the point, but it would be a mistake to do so. For this play to truly soar we must like these people and see them in their vivid and difficult complexity. Geraldine James shows us it can be done. James whirls above the rest of the cast, in one flourish conveying both the flamboyant Arkadina’s selfish, vain side and the genuinely tender feelings she has for her dyspeptic son, Konstanin.
But Blatchley’s direction seems to have failed other lesser actors in this awkward rendition. A sense of jilted inhibition hangs in the air that only Roger Lloyd Pack is able to dispel. Within duologues and group chatter there are occasional flashes of something real and alive, raising the stagnant humidity only to be shot down immediately with a badly timed pause or piece of stage play. But the long soliloquies that pepper this play are torpid, and ultimately we don’t care about Nina, the damaged Seagull or her suicidal lovelorn scribe, or indeed any of the characters in this rather stilted production.
Runs until July 16th