Black Swan State Theatre Company
by Anton Chekhov
adapted by Hilary Bell
Directed by Kate Cherry
Designed by Fiona Bruce
With Adam Booth, Rebecca Davis, Leila George, Michael Loney, Andrew McFarlane, Luke McMahon, Greg McNeill, Sarah McNeill, Ben Mortley and Greta Scacchi
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
Until August 31
This remounting of The Seagull, Anton Chekhov’s great first play, owes much to a modest, approachable adaptation by Hillary Bell, effectively executed by its director, Kate Cherry.
Bell, who has no Russian, has interpreted several English translations of the play made over the past century—if this sounds like “adaptation by committee”, Bell seems to be happy to live, and Cherry to work, with it.
The result stays loyal to its roots—we remain by a Russian lake, not in an Australian beach house or a Long Island estate. The characters speak in their own accents, but traditional representations of the Russian idiom remain. They are dressed, by the designer Fiona Bruce, as per fin de siècle Russia, and her set, a stripped-down proscenium, is like many that have housed the play in the past 120 years.
So this Seagull is not spectacular, or edgy, but it is handsome and approachable. If it’s something of museum piece, that’s not the worst charge that can be levelled at a work of its significance in theatre history.
Link here to the complete review in The West Australian