Review of The Seagull.
11th June 2013
Anton Chekhov's 'The Seagull' is deemed to be one of the great modern classics and Headlong Theatre and The Nuffield Southampton co-production with Derby Theatre excel in bringing a bold freshness and modern approach to the work through John Donnelly's stunning up to date version directed by Blanche McIntyre. The original ideals of ground breaking theatre written by Chekhov were that the language be direct and have immediate meaning for the audience. Instead of stilted overly theatrical language Chekhov's dialogue and theatrical prose were seen to be startlingly fresh and understood by the audience as 'the language we speak ' or the actions and flow of story 'the way we live now'. These were challenging and exciting concepts that changed the future of theatrical art and how a story is presented on the stage.
Theatre and art are discussed at length through various forms and clever staging in this piece and quite intensely at some points, brilliantly turning a tirade into a sexual turn on for one character. A bold and amusing approach to interpretation. Boris and Nina fiercely argue the pros and cons of artistic success and the naïve Nina succumbs to the magnetism of the successful but unhappy Trigorin both balanced on a rocking sea saw of wild emotions.
The piece could be called a 'movable artistic feast' with the ultra modern symbolic set that isn't traditional in any sense only depicting a change in place through new positioning; a fresh off kilter imbalance of levels and the introduction of hastily drawn suitcases or indecipherable writings on the backdrop. The production was certainly atmospheric and the score electrifying at times and the quality lighting palate that sometimes illuminates the audience as well as the players created tensions as well as the scene. As a piece of theatrical live art it worked well and the acting was top class, on the whole, thrillingly mixing seasoned actors with raw new talent fresh from drama school.