Seagulls

In Seagulls, visuals are everything. And the visuals are absolutely breathtaking. Combined with the text, it raises the question, ‘is the look and the feel more important than the content within a piece of theatre?’ No firm conclusions are reached but with this production I suspect what the majority of audiences leave talking about is not what they have heard, but what they have seen.

I overheard one audience member remark “that’s what you go to the Fringe for.” and I have to say, I couldn’t agree more.

The play explores Chekhov’s classic text The Seagull. To say it tell the story would be a push, but instead the company uses this material as its starting point, tearing it up and putting it back together in unexpected ways. The story is set within a theatre and the family’s clashing values on what makes good theatre. The characters would only need to step back and witness the production they are a part of to find the answer but, sadly, this is not possible. Much of the action takes place beside a lake which forms a fully actualised part of the set, complete with an impressive quantity of water. Huge amounts of credit have to be given to Milla Clarke, the set designer. Halfway through the performance the seating is switched from traverse to end on as a curtain is pulled back and the stunning design of the lake imbedded in an old pulpit is revealed.

As a highly physical, site specific performance it is certainly something different, but these elements wouldn’t be enough to hold a production together if the performers were weak. Fortunately for Volcano Theatre this is far from the case. Each company member produces a spellbinding performance that fully carries both the tragedy and comedy intrinsic to the delivery of this show. As I left the space I overheard one audience member remark “that’s what you go to the Fringe for.” and I have to say, I couldn’t agree more.  

Reviews by Gillian Bain

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A young girl has lived all her life by a lake. Like a seagull, she loves the lake, and she’s happy and free. But a man comes along and wrecks her life for want of anything better to do. Volcano’s ‘astonishing, visceral version’ (Buzzmag.co.uk) of Chekhov’s The Seagull is performed in a spectacular setting within a decaying church. Five lost souls climb walls and swing on ropes, fall in and out of love, dance to a sensational soundtrack, play games, get wet and fight duels. An impossibly sad, unreasonably funny and ludicrously inventive version of a temperamental Russian classic.

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