The Seagull: in brief
Trudie Styler plays a vain star actress in Thomas Kilroy's adaptation of Chekhov's gloomy meditation on art, sex and misery (resituated to 19th-century Ireland). Max Stafford-Clark, who commissioned the piece in 1981, directs an ensemble that also includes Rufus Collins and Amanda Quaid.
The Seagull: theater review by Helen Shaw
Who gets the blame for the Culture Project’s tatty, underproduced The Seagull? Surely accomplished director Max Stafford-Clark (founder of Out of Joint) knows a gull from a handsaw—even if here his work seems lunatic. Perverse casting decisions undercut Thomas Kilroy’s gleeful 1981 Irish version of Chekhov’s tragicomedy: Trudie Styler as Isobel (née diva-termagant Arkadina) can’t force her frozen features into basic expressions, while Slate Holmgren, as her Hamletish son Constantine, screams like a toddler past nap time. Miscast Alan Cox—at ease and genuinely comic—has zero eroticism as Aston/Trigorin, so that his seduction scenes with Lily/Nina (Rachel Spencer Hewitt) become entirely absurd.
Happily, the secondary characters boast precision and brio: Amanda Quaid as brusque Mary/Masha, Ryan David O’Byrne as her deferential suitor, and the wonderfully droll Tim Ruddy, Rufus Collins and Stella Feehily as the romantic triangle we suddenly, fervently wish the play were about. Watching them smilingly wait while the hams declaim teaches a kind of Chekhovian patience—in a hundred years, it’ll all be forgotten.—Theater review by Helen Shaw
THE BOTTOM LINE: This lousy Chekhov revival is for the birds.
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