A youthful cast delivers a mature and faithful production of The Seagull
PUBLISHED: 18:44 01 May 2013 | UPDATED: 18:44 01 May 2013
On the back of a successful run last year, theatre company Acting Gymnasium returned to the Theatro Technis in Camden last month to reprise their production of Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’.
As one of London’s leading lights in fringe theatre, the Theatro Technis’ spit and sawdust charm proved the perfect setting for a gritty Chekhov masterpiece stripped bare by director Gavin McAlinden.
With any youthful cast, often the worst mistake a director can make is to cake their natural enthusiasm with a powder of costume and stage decoration. What is immediately recognisable in McAlinden’s ‘The Seagull’ is that, with lack of any props (save the odd chair) and relatively sparse musical accompaniment, his cast are relying on their wits. Furthermore, it is a challenge they rise to.
The Seagull tells the story of a complicated love triangle, though that may still rob the shape of a few points. Primarily, Chekhov’s trademark tragedy strikes Konstantin (Alexander Neal), a troubled and insecure playwright transfixed by aspiring actress Nina (Emily Florence Hutchings), who falls for the more well renowned playwright Trigorin (David Weinberg).
Both Neal and Florence Hutchings’ channelled exuberance sees their characters appear to slip on the edge of naivety, so energetic that their transition towards exhaustion appears as much a physical result of their performance as it is scripted.
It makes a marked contrast with the more cultured, but equally assured appearances of Weinberg and Gareth Kearns, who plays wisened doctor Dorn. A play where tight-lipped appearances are shown to be as fragile as naked innocence, Weinburg and Kearns give every impression of control, only letting slip their character’s own flaws with the odd deliberate flash of a guilty eye or witty aside.
Set in its original 19th century setting, McAlinden’s production deviates little from Chekhov’s original vision, not that such traditionalism is necessarily a problem. With characters so strong, the Russian’s depictions of humanity and its shortcomings will always ring true. Acting Gymnasium wisely places these characters at the heart of its attention and delivers a performance that will resonate with audiences old as well as young.
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