Review: The Seagull

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State Theatre Company Scenic Workshop, Thursday, February 27

State Theatre Company Scenic Workshop, Thursday, February 27

Chekhov’s plays are notoriously difficult to perform. Rich in subtext, emotion and symbolism, if not handled delicately it can delve into soap opera territory. At points, this curse plagues the State Theatre Company’s ambitious adaptation of The Seagull, with some parts suffering from overacting as an effort to communicate the subtleties hidden within Chekhov’s words. The updated setting is also confused – with the original Chekhov context of Russian cities and 1895 technologies clumsily modified to 1950s Australiana. However, the staging and lighting are wonderful, as their simplicity captures the essence of Chekhov by allowing the performances and material to take the focus with an industrial starkness not unlike Lars Von Trier’s Dogville. While all the actors handle their roles competently, the drama sometimes runs away from them, with tender silences spiralling into screaming matches. With all eyes on Xavier Samuel as the tormented writer Konstantin, who has strong presence with newcomer Lucy Fry as Nina, it is often the smaller, subtler characters including Lizzy Falkland’s Polina and Terence Crawford’s Dr Dorn, who are the most memorable. While the comedy, drama and tragedy of Chekhov are present ­– it’s the lack of authenticity that doesn’t allow The Seagull to soar. ***1/2 * This review also appears on Rip It Up Photos: Shane Reid

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