Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Friday, July 15, 2022

The Seagull @ Harold Pinter Theatre...

Last night I went to see a modern take on Anton Chekhov’s love-triangle ridden masterpiece The Seagull at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's glitzy West End.
Starring Emilia Clarke (yes, her off of Game of Thrones) making her West End debut the play has been reborn by Anya Reiss into a distinctly 21st century incarnation - along with much discussion of social media, the private life / fame balance, and the cost of mobile phone contracts. And it hasn't really been improved by the modern transition.
The orignal play is usually heavy on sub-text - whereas from what I saw last night the new text was not so much sub as dom. It was in control. Precious few feelings or motives were left unsaid.
Happily Clarke's Nina is a beguiling performance, bewitching and seductive. I'd love to see her in something better. In fact the whole cast (Jason Barnett, Robert Glenister, Tom Rhys Harries, Mika Onyx Johnson, Gerald Kyd, Daniel Monks, Sara Powell, Indira Varma, and Sophie Wu) are all good - it's just they are hamstrung Reiss's wisecracking script and by Jamie Lloyd's frankly puzzling production. 
No gun, no scenery, no backdrops, no seagull, no props (save for some green plastic chairs). The cast are on stage the whole time in a chipboard box set.
It's also a very lean-back production. Quite literally the characters lean so far back in their chairs that as they talk softly it is often hard to see who is speaking at first. There is very little movement.
Which pretty much makes me conclude the whole thing would have been much better suited to be on the radio. Let the voices tell the tale.
As Rita in Education Rita said of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, “Do it on the radio.”
So a good enough show, but not a wow.

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