Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Cast turn “dull” play into absorbing piece

Review: THE plays of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov have a reputation for being complicated stuff and even a little dull.

Review: THE plays of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov have a reputation for being complicated stuff and even a little dull.

So it is true to say that I was not expecting the most entertaining evening as I sat down, but the two-hour running time literally flew by and I was totally mesmerised by this outstanding production.

The Seagull tells the story of Nina, an idealistic country girl who dreams of becoming an actress. Maddie Coles was utterly convincing in a role that sees the character’s life ruined by the course of events she puts in motion to achieve her ambition.

Equally strong was the performance of Lewis Jenkins as Konstantin, her jilted lover. Like Nina, Konstantin dreams of better things, but internal conflict leads only to tragedy. It is a complex role, especially for an actor so young, but Jenkins equipped himself admirably throughout, sensibly underplaying the character’s slip into emotional instability.

Strong supporting performances were also provided by Kate Milam and Perry Williams as Arkadina, Konstantin’s mother, and Trigorin, her lover, who are the root cause of so much of Konstantin’s anguish. Both brought a maturity and intelligence to roles that I feel could have been more two-dimensional in the hands of less-skilled performers.



In what was a relatively small cast, all the performers gave excellent performances and it feels remiss not to name them all, but I do feel Kelly Stewart’s portrayal as Masha deserves a special mention. Stewart should be commended for making us feel sympathetic towards a character that we never actually grew to like.

Mention must also be made, of course, of Nic Saunders who once again directed his young cast so skilfully. Saunders’ direction cut through the perceived fussiness associated with Chekhov to produce a production that was totally absorbing.

The Seagull

The Henley College

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