Geordie Brookman’s adaptation of Chekhov’s play, The Seagull, the first play of its type to focus on how events affect the characters rather than the events themselves, draws many mixed reactions. Set in the 1950s it depicts the lives of a group of bored, rich socialites and their workers, with most being unhappy with their ‘mundane’ life. The story is very slow paced with the focus being on the tangled relationships between the characters. The position most characters are in towards the end of the play stays unchanged from the beginning, leading some characters to take drastic measures causing them to lose everything. This production explores many relevant themes and issues such as suicide, depression, insanity and unrequited love by using effective techniques in set design, music, lighting, costume and characterization to create a play with realistic characters and a plot that transcends generations.
A major decision in the set design was the use of a traverse stage, which is a theatrical stage in which the audience is on two sides of the stage, facing towards each other. This meant that rather than performing to the audience the actors were performing to each other. The design of the stage also made for easy exits and entrances for the actors, as well as incorporating a visible off stage area, showing a dining table and piano. Minimal props were used during the production therefore focusing more on the actors and the emotions portrayed which carries with the theme of Chekhov’s original play.
Brookman along with Cobham and Cregan were able to use lighting and music throughout the play to intensify scenes as well as separate the changing of acts. Throughout the changing of acts the lights were dimmed with the characters singing while they prepared the set for the next act. The music during these changes was often happy with the lyrics being sad and dreary. A main use of lighting was a panel of lights with a filter track going around them to show the moving of day to night, with different shades of filters showing the transition. Another use of lighting was the spotlight used on one of the characters Konstantin (Xavier Samulas), a struggling writer, after he shot a seagull to give to his love, Nina (Lucy Frey). This was used to emphasize the scene, which symbolizes many events that unfold later in the play.
The costumes designed by Paterson, were effective in reflecting the characters position and emotion at the time, as well as adhering to the 1950’s era. Most outfits towards the beginning of the play, during summer, were initially bright and colourful however towards the end of the play, during winter, the outfits were bleak, bland and dull. Each character also had a different style to them. For example, Masha (Matilda Bailey), the daughter of the estate manager, is always wearing black to signify that she is depressed and hates her...