Directing: Katarzyna Deszcz
Scenography: Andrzej Sadowski
Music Nigel Piper
Lighting designer: Mark Dymock
Gráinne Byrne, Farrell Fleming, Burn Gorman, James Greaves, Maeve Larkin, Jonathan Lermit, Terence Mann, Sue Maund, Carmelle McAree
Premiere: June '99, The Royal School of Art, Glasgow, Scotland
“This is a high quality piece of theatre which manages to be as witty as it is enlightening”
“The daring and pleasure of Seagulls lies in the way it views Meyerhold in rehearsal through an expressionistic filter, breaking off occassionally to remind the audience of its present day perspective.”
“Scarlet Theatre's Seagulls is a rich layering of metaphor upon metaphor which explores the issues of power and structure, culture and identity, security and intimidation, art and artifice.”
Seagulls presents the story, real and imagined, of the final production of Russian theatre innovator Vsevolod Meyerhold. It is a theatrical investigation of theatre itself and aims to be a living work, not a museum piece about Meyerhold.
What I saw on the first presentation of this new production was the raw material of a very good piece of theatre. It felt too long, and too similar throughout in pace, but contained many beautifully realised moments. It shares with the company’s previous production, Princess Sharon, a strong use of choreography – a marking-out of paths across the stage, the flocking and dispersing of groups of performers, the percussive beat of footsteps in repeated movement motifs. The sceneographic device of using painted screens on castors references both Meyerhold’s innovations in set construction and the ‘life in boxes’ visual theatre of Kantor, a mentor of Polish director Katarzyna Deszcz. It also provides a physical means of deconstructing the action into framed units, allowing an interweaving, rather than unity, of time, place and action. My main criticism of the production is that it has too earnest a feel. Perhaps a touch more of the Carnivalesque spirit that Meyerhold championed wouldn’t go amiss – I would have liked less of the biomechanics and more of Dr Dappertutto, the fairground trickster.
Despite these reservations, however, I see in Seagulls an engagement with the material that shows evidence of the benefits of an ensemble working together for more than one production. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the integrity of Scarlet Theatre who are endeavouring to create theatre that bridges the gap between thought and action.
Total Theatre 11/04