A review round up for The Seagull at the Lyric Hammersmith.
Unrequited love. Creative jealousy. Guns. Vodka. And Art.
Simon Stephens new adaptation of Chekhov’s celebrated masterpiece, directed by Sean Holmes and starring Lesley Sharp as Irina Arkadina has opened to mixed reviews at the Lyric Hammersmith.
Read our round-up of reviews below
The Seagull runs until the Feb 4 at the Lyric Hammersmith, London
Average rating score for this production:
“A crack cast perform Simon Stephens’ punchy new version of the Russian dramatist’s early play, which shifts between reality and fakery." "Played (mostly) in modern dress..the old and new are in constant dialogue." "The production artfully keeps reminding us that we are in the theatre, with its shadowy scene changes played behind a white screen so it seems as if the stage is haunted. Hyemi Shin’s design offers an estate carpeted with emerald astro-turf and dazzling with fairy lights." "The more fake it is, the more it makes us see through the fakery of the characters. This makes it one of the funniest Seagulls, but also one of the most heartbreaking. The final confrontation between Brian Vernel’s passionate, emotionally infantilised Konstantin and Adelayo Adedayo’s sweetly, painfully earnest, star-struck Nina is almost unbearable to watch." "Seldom has the play so clearly shown how the old inoculate themselves against the passion and idealism of the young by crushing them. Lesley Sharp’s Irina is monstrously funny but also terrifying in the way she so casually destroys her son and hastens Nina towards destruction" Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
“Mercifully, it’s a belter: chilling, impassioned, funny – everything ‘Heisenberg’ wasn’t.” “It has a deceptively jolly start. In the beginning it’s bright and boisterous and there’s the initial sense that Stephens and director Sean Holmes have decided to give the melancholy Russian masterpiece a fun but slightly superficial yoof-orientated makeover.” “From light, bright beginnings, Holmes’s production gathers momentum and menace, implacable and avalanche-like. It literally becomes darker, with the second half starting in inky gloom. By the end, Chekhov’s melancholy and Stephens iciness synthesize perfectly, as the shattered clan stumble the still shocking conclusion.” Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out
“Chekhov classic goes electric as reboot loses Russian roots.” "This Seagull has been de-Russified .. and is fiercely modern dress – all mentions of Chekhov’s motherland have been excised – and de-rarefied, as evidenced by the bracing range of accents on offer, instead of the customary RP." "A potentially ‘dusty’ classic has thus been refreshed and rebooted for a younger generation and there’s absolutely no harm in that, even if the play has lost something of its ineffable majesty en route. But maybe that’s the point." "Lesley Sharp does fine work as the horribly self-obsessed established actress, always ready to shed a manipulative tear when things don’t go her way, and Adelayo Adedayo gives a powerful sense of budding actress Nina’s mental disintegration." “The voice of Simon Stephens rings louder than Chekhov in this bracing but imperfect modern updating.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard
“A Seagull that never quite takes off.” “After the underwhelming Heisenberg, The Seagull finds Simon Stephens again rolling the dice and landing a low number, although his version – inevitably billed as “dynamic” on the playscript blurb – is serviceable, sincere.” "The blame must mainly fall on that usually capable director Sean Holmes. He has assembled a fine body of actors – led by Lesley Sharp, playing that self-preoccupied actress Irina (Arkadina) – but too often leaves them looking stranded and sounding stilted." "Sharp is always watchable, and there are similar instances of lightly done intensity – Konstantin scrabbling under a table in reflexive, childlike fear when his mother viciously turns on him; the forlorn showdown between the disillusioned youngsters – but they are too few and far between. The pace drags. There’s insufficient sense of context: references to carriages and manuscripts jar with the casual modern-dress." Dominic Cavendish, Telegraph
“Some of the modernising is modish in this new version of Chekhov’s tragicomedy and the result is restless rather than revivifying.” “The genius of Chekhov shines out by the end of this new version of his great country-house tragicomedy, though Sean Holmes’s sometimes gimmicky, sometimes glorious production hinders it as much as it helps.” Dominic Maxwell, Times
"Simon Stephens’ clever and cool, if slightly thin, adaptation of Chekhov." "As Arkadina, Lesley Sharp channels Jennifer Saunders in Ab Fab. She’s playing a performer, and it’s clear from the way she exaggerates little lines with a funny accent that her Arkadina is always putting on a performance. What’s particularly good is how that performance conceals Arkadina's childishness, and vulnerability." "Sharp’s joined by an amazing cast: Brian Vernel’s angsty Konstantin, but Michele Austin’s put-upon Pauline, Paul Higgins’ authoritative doctor, and a wonderfully pitiable performance from Nicolas Tennant as Irina’s brother Peter." “Tonally unsettling, at one moment it’s absurd, even grotesque, then it’s quite trad, this sometimes feels like a production of Chekhov that’s trying too hard to be cool, but if it makes it more accessible and more enjoyable – which, by and large, this does – then it’s all for a good cause." Tim Bano, The Stage
Date: 16 October 2017
Written by: Simon Raven
Tags: lesley sharp, Lyric Hammersmith, Sean Holmes, Simon Stephens, The Seagull