The Seagull, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Of course there are some horses on the Russian country estate, but they are never available when wanted. Like the seagull that is shot, they symbolise frustrations.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Of course there are some horses on the Russian country estate, but they are never available when wanted. Like the seagull that is shot, they symbolise frustrations.

Literature is a blind alley, and scores of echoes of “Hamlet” adds resonance to despair. Consolations are hard to find. The old retire into disappointment, the young discover there are no careers open to them that are worthwhile, and only the ageing actress continues with a struggle she knows she cannot win. Self-awareness is rarely far from self condemnation, except in her case, and her professional is pretence.

David Gwyn-Harris has provided a fluent, new but not too modern translation of Chekhov's meticulously observed human drama, and his Loose Cannon Company interrupts the text with abundant skill. A tall silver birch trunk creates the rural scenes in Sorin's garden with powerful economy, and all that is missing is any real sense of the gleaming lake stretching out beyond the trees. The interior too is a neat sketch of the stuffy home.


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As Irina, Jenny Sopwith knows better than to overact which allows Stash Kirkbride his opportunity to dramatise his role as her son Konstantin. Vince Hadley conveys an impression of the onset of senility, while Tom Watson, as the farm steward can always be counted on to explode. All the smaller parts make persuasive contributions too, adding to the impact of this strong production.

t The Seagull was performed at Norwich Playhouse.

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