The Seagull

Previewed 19 June 2015, Opened 24 June 2015, Closed 11 July 2015 at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park in London

A major revival of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull in London in a new version by Torben Betts for a strictly limited season at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park.

As guests assemble at a country house for the staging of an avant-garde open air play, artistic temperaments ignite a more entertaining drama behind the scenes, with romantic jealousies, self-doubt and the ruthless pursuit of happiness confusing lives, loves and literature.

Anton Chekhov's masterpiece play entwines comic and tragic situations in the lives of a famous actress, her son and their lovers. As the young strive for fulfilment, their older counterparts look back to youthful dreams that remain unfulfilled. The first of Chekhovís great works, this play is now celebrated as one of the most important plays of the nineteenth century.

The cast features Janie Dee as 'Irina Arkadina, Matthew Tennyson as 'Konstantin Trepliov', Sabrina Bartlett as 'Nina Zarechnaya', Tara D'Arquian as 'Natasha', Lisa Diveney as 'Masha', Tom Greaves as 'Yakov', Colin Hoult as 'Simon Medviedenko', Fraser James as 'Ilia Shamraev', Lisa Palfrey as 'Paulina Andreevna', Ian Redford as 'Peter Sorin', Alex Robertson as 'Boris Trigorin' and Danny Webb as 'Eugene Dorn'. This production of The Seagull in London is presented in a new English version by Torben Betts and is directed by Matthew Dunster with designs by Jon Bausor.

When this production opened here at the Open Air Theatre in June 2015, Sam Marlowe in the Times said that ""Chekhov designated The Seagull a comedy, and Matthew Dunster's bold, brisk production of Torben Betts's new version is often killingly funny. Yet it doesn't stint on the suffering... Matthew Dunster can be heavyhanded; there are overplayed gags and the foghorn sound effects that signal emotional intensity are superfluous. Yet this Seagull is beautifully situated and in the main it soars." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described how "Matthew Dunsterís superbly acted revival of Anton Chekhov's first masterpiece for the theatre Ė sometimes so stuffily done, itís taxidermied - achieves the near-impossible: it jolts its audience awake with its dream-like action... and as the evening naturally darkens and the years hurtle by, collective disillusion gathering in the shadows, the soulful genius of Chekhovís drama takes glorious wing. Bravo." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard thought that this is "exactly what the currently crest-of-a-wave Open Air Theatre should be putting on: a lively new version of a classic for, ideally, a wider audience than Russian playwrights tend to garner... As ever with director Matthew Dunster's work, there's a punchy energy and strong through-line of thought, perfectly mirrored by Torben Betts's earthy new adaptation which refuses to let everyone remain in an emotionally distant 19th-century world... This is a high-flying Seagull." Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote that "when it stops bombarding us with electronic sound effects and being quite so relentlessly frenetic, the production takes us closer to the heart of Chekhovís first great masterpiece." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail highlighted that "the most striking thing about Matthew Dunsterís production is Jon Bausorís design. He sets a gigantic mirror over the stage, looming above the actors and giving a dislocated God-like view of the action. The visual effect is impressive, but the play itself is rendered somewhat flippant and declamatory, indulging the very melodrama it mocks." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times commented how "throughout the production Matthew Dunster plays with irony and framework, emphasising the playís concerns with the relationship between life and art, between nature and artifice and highlighting Chekhovís remarkable prescience, both artistically and socially. Itís a sharp, darkly funny and intriguing approach, though ultimately it begins to undermine the emotional impact of the play."

Janie Dee's London credits include Michael Blakemore's revival of Noel Coward's comedy Blithe Spirit which starred Angela Lansbury as 'Madame Arcati' at the Gielgud Theatre in 2014, Alan Ayckbourn's revival of his own play Woman in Mind at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2009, Michael Barker-Caven's revival of William Nicholson's play Shadowlands with Charles Dance at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2007 and John Doyle's revival of Jerry Herman's musical Mack and Mabel with David Soul at the Criterion Theatre in 2006. Matthew Tennyson's West End credits include Trevor Nunn's revival of Terrace Rattigan's play Flare Path at the Haymarket Theatre in 2011. Jon Bausor's London design credits include Jeremy Dyson's and Andy Nyman's play Ghost Stories (Duke of York's Theatre 2010, returned Arts Theatre 2014), William Golding's Lord of the Flies (Open Air Theatre 2011, returning 2015) and Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird (Open Air Theatre 2013, returned 2014, returns Barbican Theatre 2015).

The weather Every theatre performance is unique, but this is especially the case here at the Open Air Theatre where both stage and auditorium seating are uncovered. It is therefore best to come prepared for all types of weather. It is particularly important to bring a jumper for the end of evening performances. Bad weather may mean that performances have to be stopped and be re-started but, on average, 94% of performances are completed each season. In the event that the performance is abandoned due to bad weather, no refunds are given, but you can exchange your tickets for a future performance. Please speak to a member of staff on the evening.

The Seagull in London at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre previewed from 19 June 2015, opened on 24 June 2015 and closed on 11 July 2015


The Seagull - RSC 2007

Previewed 21 November 2007, 0pened 27 November 2007, Closed 12 January 2008 at the New London Theatre in London

The Royal Shakespeare Company present a strictly limited season of two plays, King Lear and The Seagull in London playing together in repertory.

The RSC's production of The Seagull in London is directed by Trevor Nunn and the cast features Frances Barber as 'Arkadina' along with Ian McKellen and William Gaunt who share the role of 'Sorin'. This production of Anton Chekhov's Seagull was originally staged at in Stratford-upon-Avon from April to June 2007.

"When I caught The Seagull in London, William Gaunt had replaced Ian McKellen in the role of Sorin, the landowner in whose lake-house the play is set, and was not bringing the same wryness to the old man's feeling that he has squandered his life. As a result, the play isn't so fully the 'comedy' that Chekhov claimed it was. But Frances Barber is still Sorin's sister, the actress Arkadina, and giving a deeper performance than at Stratford... There are strong supporting performances in Kyd's Trigorin, an introvert suddenly aware of how desperately driven he's become, and from Monica Dolan as Masha, who wears black 'because I'm in mourning for my life'. Like Barber's Arkadina, she's a poseur and not a poseur: a pale, ungainly girl besotted with Konstantin yet oddly proud of her status as a lovelorn alcoholic. You laugh, but you also feel the unhappiness." The Times

"The focus in Chekhov's bleak tale ought to be on the domineering mother Arkadina and her neurotic and misunderstood son Konstantin, but neither Frances Barber nor Richard Goulding, who take the roles in this production, are any match for a scene stealer of Ian McKellen's calibre who crops up as Sorin. His preposterously ostentatious turn - fussy, effete, seemingly always fiddling with something - throws the whole production off balance." The Sunday Telegraph

"Trevor Nunn has paired King Lear with Chekhov's The Seagull, possibly for their shared preoccupation with the idea that it's not fame or glory or status that matters, it's learning to endure. Chekhov's play also tells you all you have to know about the self-obsession, vanity, insecurity and jealousy of theatre people, particularly writers and actors. Again, McKellen is the best thing about it, and again, his hair, bubbly curls as wayward as a sheep's, has a character of its own. His Sorin, whose campness possibly explains his eternal bachelor state,is a delight. Once again, too, Nunn's direction seems to demonstrate his apparent motto of 'never knowingly understated' (to bend the John Lewis dictum)." The Mail on Sunday

The Seagull in London at the New London Theatre previewed from 21 November 2007, opened on 27 November 2007 and closed on 12 January 2008