“Don’t you want to be a genuine actress, just take threats?” anyone asks Nina in Anya Reiss’s interesting rewrite of The Seagull. The simple fact that Nina is played by Match of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, in her West Stop debut, provides an additional frisson. Clarke had now began enjoying the part in previews when theatres shut down in March 2020 she just lately reported that she feels she was “meant” to be in Jamie Lloyd’s creation. It’s undoubtedly been a extensive time coming.
So, was swapping fiery dragons for Chekhov’s metaphorical useless seagull truly worth it? I can absolutely see why Clarke would be captivated to Reiss’s wry, thinky edition. It asks massive questions about how we can be artists. It is staged in a daring, minimalist way. It appears to be achieving for one thing radical. But this self-consciously languorous generation is heading to be divisive. Some may perhaps locate this means, like the character who says Konstantin’s enjoy made an effect on him, but “I do not know what variety yet”. I discovered it unrewarding: slow-burning, normally undercutting by itself, to minimal conclude.
Chekhov’s 1895 perform is about two items that never go effectively jointly: adore triangles and tortured artists. Konstantin, who needs to be a disruptive innovative force, enjoys Nina, who would like to be a much better actress. She enjoys Trigorin, a well-known writer who is unfulfilled by his achievement. Trigorin is Arkadina’s lover. She’s Konstantin’s mom. Yikes. It is a large amount. The motion unfolds typically as a established of pithy back again-and-forths among the people, who are all marinating in their possess disappointments. Trigorin describes to Nina the burden of remaining a writer, not able to stay normally without sifting almost everything for possible material. It is “as if I’m taking in my personal existence,” he states. “What am I cannibalising even the mundane factors for?”
Indira Varma, just one of Clarke’s co-stars in Video game of Thrones, is the standout as vain actress Arkadina, bringing a feeling of enjoyable and elan that is at times missing elsewhere. “Have you ever found me not place with each other? No. Due to the fact no 1 has,” she suggests, drolly, at a single point. Daniel Monks way too gives a pretty persuasive performance as Konstantin, dissatisfied by the world’s indifference to his burdensome ambitions. Clarke’s position is not as box place of work as you may have been led to believe – it is a insignificant vital, unfussy effectiveness. She’s usually required to smile, gaze adoringly, or sit silently – but she conveys Nina’s earnest refusal to give up hope.
The staging is determinedly spare – just plastic chairs, chipboard walls. The actors are mic-ed up and barefoot, sporting cozy, floaty garments. It’s really hard not to evaluate it to Lloyd’s vastly more interesting generation of Cyrano de Bergerac, provided the shared visible language. But in which that present swaggered, working with spoken word to bring energy to the supply content, this 1 feels way too static – pretty much like a radio perform.
It’s the self-referential script that does for The Seagull in the conclusion, though. Its knowingness about poking exciting at theatre and writers finishes up emotion smug and self-indulgent. “All speeches, no motion,” Nina says of Konstantin’s participate in early on – it is an arch self-recognition that dares you to just take concern though guarding towards acquiring to do nearly anything more. It appears to want to have its cake and take in it, but as Trigorin implies, it just finishes up having itself.
The Seagull is at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 10 September