by Anton Chekov, new version by Corn Exchange
Gaiety Theatre, Dublin 2, until 16th October 2016
Oct. 11-14th, 7.30pm , Oct. 15th 2.30pm. Oct. 16th 1.30pm
Audio described performance: 15th Oct. 2.30pm
Runs 2hours, 30 mins, One interval of 20mins
TICKETS: +353 1 6778439
Review: Anne O’Leary 12th October 2016.
Powerful slant, but missed the depth of the Russian soul.
Chekov’s great plays seem to invite many different approaches and reimagining and Dublin Theatre Festival has hosted some memorable versions. This year The Corn Exchange presents a lively and contemporary take on The Seagull, altering the gender of the protagonist, thus placing the tortured writer in a gay relationship.
This pivotal change blends seamlessly into Chekov’s lines, helped by the faultless acting of the individuals making up the love triangle. Jane McGrath as Constance (Konstantin in the original) is hopelessly in love with Nina (Genevieve Hulme-Beaman) a flighty neighbour and Masha (Imogen Doel), a heavy drinker addicted to Nicorette in this production is also in love with Constance.
However, the portrayal of some of the older characters is problematic. Stephen Brennan as Sorin, the doddery estate agent inflects the character with flourishes of pantomime encouraged by the audience laughter. Derbhle Crotty too as the obsessive Eileen Arkadina seems to look to the audience to measure how much exaggeration and farce can be tolerated. She does however convey the melodrama of this character well.
Paul O’Mahony’s set is excellent. The challenge here is how to represent the lake, which has a continuing and powerful presence throughout. He opts for an abstract print of shimmering green foliage complemented by the lighting design. Life on the estate is characterised by inertia and boredom and this is communicated through the dialogue particularly Sorin’s who in his sixties reminds us that he hasn’t really lived yet and still hopes that his life might suddenly begin, without any action or change of routine on his part. The pace, particularly after the interval did not exploit this languid atmosphere but seemed to follow instead the emotional state of the characters- fast and frenetic. Thus the sense of confinement and hopelessness so central to this play is lost entirely.
Although this production introduces many great features to a play which has the role of the artist and theatre experimentation at its core, it lacks an emotional connection with the audience and loses too many of the aspects that has made the original a classic.
Cast and Creative Team:
Eileen Arkadina: Derbhle Crotty
Peter Sorin: Stephen Brennan
Boris Trigorin: Rory Keenan
Constance: Jane McGrath
Masha: Imogen Doel
Nina: Genevieve Hulme-Beaman
Paulina: Anna Healy
Dr Dorn: Louis Lovett
Medvedenko: Stephen Mullan
Director: Annie Ryan
Set Design: Paul O’Mahony
Lighting Design: Sinéad Wallace
Music and Sound Design: Tom Lane
Costume Design: Saileóg O’Halloran