Skip to main content

The Seagull

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow 4 stars
We are sleepwalking to oblivion,” says would-be literary iconoclast Konstantin in John Donnelly's audacious new version of Chekhov's look at life, art and the imitations of both. It's not the most un-Chekhovian line Donnelly tosses into his knowingly modern mix, but it's not a bad start. Here, Alexander Cobb's Konstantin is a theatrical brat intent on breaking the mould via the sort of site-specific performance that's all the rage these days. The fact that his old-school actress mother Irina is doing the dirty with tortured artist Boris, and that his play, performed half naked by Pearl Chanda's star-struck Nina, is the sort of pretentious tosh that gives experimental theatre a bad name, doesn't help his cause any.

With all about him pumped up on prescription drugs and booze, amidst his bluster and grand poetic gestures, Konstantin can't even get it together to shoot himself. While Donnelly retains the play's Russian setting, his characters more resemble the sort of well-heeled London bohemians who made good on the back of the 1960s, and have been getting their heads together in the country ever since.

Stylistically, Blanche McIntyre's production for Headlong and the Nuffield, Southampton moves between heavy-duty angst to comic archness and back again, while at its heart it lays bare the selfish self-absorption of the male ego at play. Nowhere is this captured better than in a remarkable scene in which Abigail Cruttenden's Irina flatters Gyuri Sarossy's Boris back into her arms with considerably more physical gusto than is normally seen in Chekhov. Konstantin may be a literary success by the end of the play, but it's Nina's broken presence that matters more.

The Herald, May 3rd 2013



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…