BWW Review: THE SEAGULL, Lyric Hammersmith
Chekhov's gorgeous masterpiece is given a dynamic reinvention by the Olivier Award-winning Simon Stephens at Lyric Hammersmith. It's a story of undying love, intense jealousy, weapons, alcohol and art.
We can talk, and talk, and talk about the world, but what can it change? It's a party, but with no celebration. Guests sit on deckchairs and watch a play that they hate. The piece flits easily between the ridiculous and the profound. Love goes under the microscope, as does the insistent desire to create art that can have a profound effect on society.
The dialogue bounces around the characters successfully in Sean Holmes's crisp production, and each actor does well to keep the pace up. Stephens includes a lot of dry humour in his modern updating, but he also leaves space for silence. The overall feeling is an intense delicacy, like treading on eggshells.
Adelayo Adedayo is superbly cast as Nina, the tough and feisty younger actress. She is adored by everyone and laps up all attention. Adedayo is softly spoken, but can also summon a lot of power behind her words, especially when she delivers them to Nicholas Gleaves's Boris. She and Gleaves possess a strong chemistry, and effectively put across the characters' desire for one another.
But there is no doubt that Lesley Sharp is the star of the show. Before you enter the theatre you are greeted with her sultry stare on the poster, and in performance she is outrageous, kooky and downright bonkers - every moment watching her is a pure delight.
The rest of the cast feels like her support; she is in a world of her own. Her character Irina is the matriarch of the house, and commands full attention. It seems like Sharp is constantly exploring on stage, discovering new ways to develop a unique performance. You really can't take your eyes off her.
The Seagull is an intersecting web of different stories all spinning together in one giant wheel. It feels like each person is playing a constant chess match with one another. Throughout you question: what actually makes these people happy? Is it wealth? Family? Or love?
It's a show that bares all, and holds nothing back.
Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton