"chekhov comes alive in london"
by lloyd morris on 25/01/08

It is so easy to dismiss any attempt to breathe new life into a play that sits near the pinnacle of early 20th century drama. This production at The Lion & Unicorn dares to re- evaluate the text then play it for all it's worth.

The result is a Seagull that never loses pace, is full of those inner contradictions that Chekhov loved of his characters and is so much fun. The humour , at times, reaches vaudevillian levels, as chekhov himself believed it should, and is counterpointed by some truly beautiful moments of human frailty and desperation in the blink of an eye. The journey of Nina, played by the excellent Lea Oxley,was frightening and reminded me of the late Princess Dianna. Desperate for attention and abused by a man she loved.

The acting throughout was truthful and never dull or obvious. Ann Winkles, as Arkadina, strode across the stage like a ship in full sail using every trick in her box to keep her Trigorin ( although the simulated felatio was not erotic).Her American accent seemed to add to her allure.Jemma Gross as Masha gave us a young woman who settled for her lot, in direct contrast to Nina, and Fergus Rees captured the silly , spineless teacher.John Mawson as Dr Dorn was elegantly played with a serpantine sting underlying his speeches.Shaban Arifi gave us a Konstantin full of anger and frustration, his realisation that Nina still wanted Trigorin a moving moment. He just needs to pay closer attention, at times, to his diction .

I would like to thank this talented company for giving us a wonderful piece of theatre and urge people to go and see this show

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