Anton Chekhov’s classic is propelled into the 21st century with an adaptation by Anya Reiss and a stripped back production by director Jamie Lloyd.
Emilia Clarke makes her long awaited West End debut as Nina, alongside Tom Rhys Harries (Trigorin), Daniel Monks (Konstantin), Indira Varma (Arkadina) and Sophie Wu(Masha), Jason Barnett (Shamrayev), Robert Glenister (Sorin), Mika Onyx Johnson (Medvedenko), Gerald Kyd (Dorn) and Sara Powell (Polina).
In a rare 4-star review from
Arifa Akbar found the show ‘hypnotic’ in a rare ★★★★ review from The Guardian’s chief theatre critic, whilst the Evening Standard ★★★★ said “Lloyd’s stripped back and static production won’t please all comers” but “Emilia Clarke is charismatic” and “Indira Varma is mesmerising”. Dominic Cavendish ★★ at The Telegraph thought the show was “too static and sapping, in these joy-starved times” with Clive Davis ★★ at The Times agreeing saying “this oddly static production, much of it delivered sotto voce, is closer to a radio play or a rehearsal.”
Read a round-up of reviews for The Seagull at the Harold Pinter Theatre London. More reviews for follow.
The Seagull runs until 10 September 2022. Tickets for The Seagull are on sale.
The Seagull reviews
"Woodchip-walled Chekhov is hypnotic"
"Jamie Lloyd’s radical, stripped-back, strangely gripping production, using Anya Reiss’s cool adaptation, might well be aspiring to Konstantin’s ideal of creating a new theatrical form. This is not Chekhov as we know it, nor theatre as we know it, certainly not in the West End. "
"This is a maverick show that, like Oklahoma! at the Young Vic, proves how dangerous and daring a revival can be"
"Emelia Clarke’s wings are clipped by this ascetic Chekhov staging"
"The Game of Thrones star isn’t given the chance to shine in this new production, so spartan it’s distractingly ostentatious"
"In so far as they go, constrained by a directorial conceit so sparing it’s distractingly ostentatious, I can’t fault the cast, but they yield little that couldn’t be obtained in more traditional, pleasure-giving Chekhov. "
"it’s too static and sapping, in these joy-starved times"
"Emilia Clarke is charismatic in her West End debut"
"Clarke is undeniably charismatic, but her presence is far from the only reason to grab a ticket. A universally strong cast act with their faces more than their bodies, bringing a cinematic intensity to this intense exploration of fame, failure, and heartbreak."
"Indira Varma is mesmerising"
"There’s something jarring about watching an actor deliver a bravura performance surrounded by the bored faces of their fellow cast members: it’s a poignant reminder that even the most moving work of art will leave some people cold."
"Lloyd’s stripped back and static production won’t please all comers. But it’s an exciting break with tradition, converting its star power into a darker, weirder, and more satisfying kind of energy."
"Emilia Clarke can’t rescue this airless Chekhov"
"Emilia Clarke ...turns in a perfectly fine performance. Indira Varma is even more impressive"
"this oddly static production, much of it delivered sotto voce, is closer to a radio play or a rehearsal."
"Nuanced, quietly radical ensemble piece strips Chekhov’s dark comedy to the barest bones"
"Anya Reiss’ bleakly comic take on The Seagull remains strikingly contemporary some 10 years after its first performance. "
"Performances are uniformly gripping, the character’s clashing complications gelling together in a messy but compellingly believable whole. Making her official West End debut, Emilia Clarke captivates as aspiring ingénue Nina"
"Emilia Clarke, Indira Varma Shine in a Production That Doesn’t Fly"
"an uneven production more willful than wonderful."
"On the upside, with everyone wearing visible head mics (shades of the troupe Complicite and beyond), they can — and do — whisper lines, making them almost closer to thoughts than speech"
"And Lloyd’s technique has the welcome effect of pulling the audience into the intensity of the drama and making audiences truly listen and do imaginative work.
"But the considerable downside is that all this robs the evening of the actors’ energy. At its weakest, it feels like a reading. And for audiences unfamiliar with the play, the stakes are likely to remain dangerously low because all the (over-emphasized) moments come at the expense of the drama coalescing into a whole. "
"Emilia Clarke is dazzling in Jamie Lloyd’s brilliant reimagining"
"The Game of Thrones actor gives a fragile, almost childlike turn in a brutally beautiful production"
"a brutally beautiful reimagining: it’s as if he’s shot the Seagull we’ve seen so many times before clean out of the sky to land smack in the here and now."
"Emilia Clarke can’t save The Seagull"
"The stage is a bare, doorless, three-sided chipboard box. The actors are barefoot and drably attired on plastic chairs. They eff and blind. When not in a scene, they stare into space or close their eyes. This is also true, soon, of some audience members."
"The play opens with stuff about theatre theory and the didacticism of “the gatekeepers of culture”. It is done without irony. The cast are head-miked so that we can hear their gulps and snuffles. It’s like watching a bad Radio 4 play."
"Doesn’t half drag-on"
"Indira Varma is excellent, but this self-referential rewrite of Chekhov’s 1895 play feels slow and self-indulgent"
"It’s the self-referential script that does for The Seagull in the end, though. Its knowingness about poking fun at theatre and writers ends up feeling smug and self-indulgent. “All speeches, no action,” Nina says of Konstantin’s play early on – it’s an arch self-awareness that dares you to take issue while guarding against having to do anything more."
"Emilia Clarke is irresistible in Jamie Lloyd’s ultra-stripped back take on Chekhov’s masterpiece"
"To say Lloyd’s production is boring would be far from true. But it harnesses the dramatic potential of tedium: you can palpably feel the dullness and the smallness of the island, gnawing away at the senses of its inhabitants, many of whom speak in flat, low voices, some barely more than a mumble."
"In this context the use of Anya Reiss’s lairy 2012 adaptation of the play seems less because Lloyd’s production feels in sync with her sweary, yoof-friendly adaptation, but because its spikey dialogue adds a bit of energy and humour to the wilfully hushed delivery."
"Nonetheless, the ostensibly subdued performances are all gripping and often startlingly original. "
"Performed barefoot and in modern dress, Jamie Lloyd’s enthralling production, at the Harold Pinter Theater through Sept. 10, furthers the stripped-back approach to the classics he brought to a recent “Cyrano de Bergerac” that was acclaimed in New York and London."
"Doing without props of any kind, the cast members, headed by the “Game of Thrones” alumna Emilia Clarke in a terrific West End debut, deliver the play seated on green plastic chairs and boxed in by chipboard; they speak with a quiet intensity, as though we were eavesdropping on the characters’ innermost thoughts. Some will be exasperated by the approach, but I was riveted from the first hushed utterance to the last."