Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview. This is a student theatre view. All opinions are my own.
The Seagull is a play written by the Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov.
The Seagull is also an adaptation of Chekhov’s play by Florence Bell.
The Seagull is currently in performance at the Nottingham New Theatre, located on the University of Nottingham main campus, from Wednesday 27th March – Saturday 30th March. The Nottingham New Theatre is the only entirely student run theatre in the country.
The Seagull explores conflicting relationships between four characters:
- Boris, a writer
- Irine, an actress
- Nina, an actress
- Stanley, a playwright
Florence has adapted Chekhov’s original by reinterpreting and repeating the final act of the play four times, in order to highlight four different character perspectives. This is a clear diversion from Chekhov’s original four act structure. Indeed, The Seagull calls attention throughout to its structural and stylistic differences from Chekhov, commenting on old literary traditions, and the act of adaptation and new writing.
“Is this meant to be an adaptation?”
“I don’t know what it is but it doesn’t feel much like the original.”
“And I don’t like that.”
I thought this was an interesting idea; adaptation is a subject I am interested in myself, as it raises a number of questions such as:
- What are adaptations “allowed” to change?
- What are adaptations “not allowed” to change?
- What is an adaptation expected to include or exclude?
At various points, The Seagull pauses to explain, rewind, or critique the characters onstage. Very metatheatrical. Personally, I found this confusing. I don’t know a great deal about the theatre or Chekhov however, so this could easily be my ignorance showing.
Whilst I may not have understood everything, I still enjoyed the play – and laughed! I was surprised at how funny this adaptation of The Seagull was. I didn’t necessarily laugh at everything, but, given what I knew about Chekhov’s play beforehand (a story about sad writers), I was impressed by the amount of well-delivered, natural-sounding humour contained within a story largely focused on suffering.
My favourite part of the play was Stanley’s direct address to the audience, criticising criticism. He argued in support of new writing, and challenged the critics who seemingly live to drag other people’s work down. (what does this mean for me, as a “critic”?) I thought this speech was powerful, and an excellent piece of Florence’s writing.
“I know that one day, I could make something really good, a great work of art. And a lot of people are never going to do that. So I’m worth something.”
The Seagull will be performed at Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 30th March.
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This post was last updated in 2020.