Theatre Group’s ‘The Seagull’ Review

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Set on a Russian country estate, the conflict between art and form and the complexity of human interaction is played to perfection in the Theatre Group’s interpretation of Chekhov’s The Seagull.

After reading a general overview of the story I was about to see unfold, I can only say I was concerned as to whether I was going to enjoy myself. I am thrilled to  say that I was pleasantly surprised. In general, the performances given by the cast were absolutely impeccable.

It was clear that a lot of effort had gone into the set. The country sounds in combination with the flowers so close to the audience and Griffiths’ complete focus upon remaining in character upon the audience’s entrance were amazing.  Walking into the auditorium was like being hit by a tidal wave of atmosphere.

I must say I only had two criticisms. Although as an audience we understand that Konstantin’s tearing of his manuscript so very slowly is supposed to build tension, there is a fine line between building tension and being time consuming. This was the only moment in which I felt the show lost its pacing.

Secondly, a tad more projection from a few of the cast near the beginning of act 1 would have been welcome as it was initially hard to distinguish some of the dialogue. However, this was of little consequence as it improved very swiftly and was no great impediment to the show as a whole.

Forster’s Konstantin was dynamic and interesting. After seeming a tad petulant during act 1, his interpretation of the misunderstood son and artist blossomed at the beginning of act 2 as his head was being bandaged. Raw emotion radiated from Forster for the entirety of his performance which made him all the more thrilling to watch.

Positively stand up performances were given by Peter Ward, Hannah Griffiths and Hannah Cutting. Ward excelled in the slightly flirtatious nature of his character Dom, Griffiths’ Masha was absolutely heartbreaking and Hannah Cutting succeeded in making Arkadina (who I considered the most irritating character) unexpectedly endearing.

But a spotlight must be placed firmly upon both Bella Brown and Joel Jackson. Jackson’s hysterical interpretation of Sorin truly stole the show for the entirety of act one and switched seamlessly between hilarity and seriousness throughout act two. As for Bella Brown, it was clear that she had completely given herself over to the character of Nina. During Nina’s breakdown near the end of act 2, even Brown’s smallest movements seemed to possess the entire stage. It was one of the most moving and authentic performances I have seen in quite a while.

All in all, The Seagull was absolutely fantastic.

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