The Garden Suburb Theatre (GST) is a friendly and welcoming amateur theatre company.

We are a registered charity promoting involvement in the Dramatic Arts in North London. We welcome anyone who wishes to learn more about drama, either by participating in or coming to watch one of our diverse programme of shows.

Review

Garden Suburb Theatre's summer production is Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull" and very good it is too. The opening lines set the tone for the entire play. When asked why she's always wearing black, Masha says that she's in mourning for her life. It's melancholy, it's serious but it's also shot through with humour. Which is a fair description of the play as a whole.

I confess to never having seen nor read "The Seagull" and I was struck by how modern and relevant it is. This is all the more extraordinary given that it was written in 1895 and is ostensibly about Russian provincials and their country-life concerns. But contained within that framework is the vast panorama of life - ambition, jealously, unrequited love (lots of it), mortality and even the possibility and meaning of personal fulfilment. No-one can accuse the play of lacking in scope. It's also self-aware, not to mention meta. It's not only got a play within a play, it's got its own metaphor in the title and a story within the story to explain it. With such dazzlingly brilliant writing, that Chekhov could have a future...

Of course, the script needs a quality cast to bring the production to life and on this front, it does not disappoint. I particularly warmed to Amos Witztum's portrayal of doctor Dorn. He infuses the role with compassion, intelligence, humour and, above all, warmth. Danielle Stagg as Masha is simply outstanding. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders and inhabits the role of frustrated and permanently disappointed country woman with conviction and aplomb. Tempeste Hepenstall-Brown's Nina is another find - looking and sounding like a young Keira Knightley, she brings a freshness and vivacity to the role. The other stand-out performance is Gabi Maddocks' Irina. I must declare a self-interest at this point, as Gabi is a long-standing friend. However, her portrayal of the overly-dramatic, over-bearing and self-deluded mother of Konstantin Gavrilovich is, in my view, superb.

The setting is a joy - what could be more enjoyable than outdoor theatre on a perfect summer's evening? It helps that the play itself is set outdoors, in the summer, giving the whole show a verisimilitude that adds to the pleasure and appreciation. The set design is basic but pleasing, whilst the costumes are terrific - the ladies in particular look every inch the Russian women that they are portraying.

I have two minor quibbles - whilst I understand that the script requires the characters' names to be said in full, I would have found it more engaging to have modernised this element; "Peter" is more accessible than "jotr Nikolayevich" and less confusing too. And whilst the painting of the lake achieved a purpose, it would have made more sense to situate the lake behind the audience and conjure up the water by means of sound effects rather than visuals. But these are minor points - this is a highly enjoyable and well-realised production. Catch it if you can!

Review by Culture Bloggers

This is a review of The Seagull

The original review is here: London Culture Blog