"Comic moments paradoxically heighten tragedy"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 16/11/18

“The Seagull”, by Anton Chekov, is usually played as a dark, bleak tragedy (as shown by the recent National Theatre production). While this approach may be superficially logical, it can be a bit overpowering, so by the end you become rather tired of the characters and their endless struggles. Tower Theatre Company and director by Julia Collier have used Michael Frayn’s translation to prove that, if you emphasise the comic elements, it paradoxically makes the emotional impact of the tragic elements much stronger.

The play is best described as a series of love triangles: although adored by Masha (Sarah Evans), Konstantin (Dominic Chambers), only has eyes for Nina (Rachael Harrison). Problem is, she wants to be an actress, and is swept away by the faded glamour of second-rate novelist Trigorin (David Hankinson), the lover of Konstantin’s miserly mother, Arkadina (Lucy Moss). Meanwhile Masha’s mother still has feeling for womanising doctor Dorn (Nigel Oram), while Sorin (Jonathan Norris) is slowly dying on a terminal illness.

Lucy Moss steals the show as Arkadina, an actress full of jealousy and insecurity. Beneath her imperious persona we see someone who knows that she is in the autumn of her career. Rachael Harrison’s Nina is also excellent, moving from a gauche teenager in Act One, full of wild dreams about a career on the stage, to someone who has clearly been through a lot of trauma by the end. Chambers also develops from a pretentious, overly sensitive artist, to someone who is profoundly melancholic.

While this is a long production, running at nearly three hours, it captures the arc of the play, and its characters, far better than many of the major professional productions. Recommended.

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