June 13, 2006
Old Fire Station Theatre, 13-17 June, 2006Konstantin wants to be a successful writer and is in love with Nina, who wants to be an actress. Arkadina, Konstantin’s mother, is a famous actress who wants to be praised, worshipped and in control. Trigorin is a famous author who, while supposedly being the lover of Arkadina, seduces and corrupts Nina. Add to this a sickly uncle – Sorin – who regrets his wasted life; Masha, who loves Konstantin from afar but marries Medvedenko, an impecunious schoolteacher; and Dorn, a middle aged Lothario of a doctor who is actually Masha’s father - but don’t tell Shamrayev who is married to Polina (Masha’s mother). Make everybody damaged, or self-obsessed, and throw in the eponymous bird as a symbol of doomed hopes. Oh, and it rains a lot too! Result? Typical Chekhov play.
The Seagull is difficult as a piece of theatre: the long speeches, and the story set over several years, tax the actors in creating and sustaining believable characters. Pacing is also tricky- the lengthy speeches again. This production was a little underplayed for my liking – Chekhov bears heavy characterisation and real emotional punch in the delivery and the performance I saw was too restrained. Notable exceptions to this were Simon Taverner as a suitably regretful Sorin and John Owen as the self-obsessed Trigorin. Rosie Leach as Arkadina struck a chord as the selfish mother, and fading actress, in her scenes with her son and lover respectively. Suzanna Herbert’s Nina showed good development from the idealistic ingénue of the early scenes to the confused and neurotic fallen woman seen later in the play. And Andy Feld, as Dorin, injected energy with his pace of delivery and fine timing.
The cast and crew have clearly worked hard to put together an understandable and admirably well learned production of a difficult play and they deserve the reward of decent audiences in their run at the Old Fire Station until 17th June.