The National’s new production of The Seagull was one of the productions I was most looking forward to this summer. I really relished the prospect of seeing Juliet Stevenson on stage and was intrigued to see Ben Whishaw especially as I now know he’ll be playing the lead in the upcoming film of Patrick Suskind’s Perfume. But, once again, I went to the National with high hopes and came away feeling rather underwhelmed.
I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to Chekhov. I’ve not seen The Seagull performed before so it was difficult to appreciate what I gather was the radical nature of Katie Mitchell’s production. The play had been set in some vast warehouse like space, with peeling paint and an air of decay. Servants zipped back and forth constantly and doors slammed with regularity. I could kind of see what she intended, life progressing while these characters were content to stew in their own self-induced torment, oblivious to all else. But all the running about ended up muffling a lot of the dialogue, which grew to be irritating in the end.
Thursday’s excursion was more successful. Matt and I went to see Matthew Todd’s play Blowing Whistles at the Sound Theatre, a cold, curious space in a club off Leicester Square. The play started off as pure sitcom, but slowly evolved into something darker and more contemplative. It was a bit formulaic but it had some great lines, and realistically recreated the repetitive and painful nature of a relationship in meltdown.
The flat-hunting has progressed no further but Lisa and I, and some of her work colleagues, had a nice, long gin-sprinkled lunch in Covent Garden last weekend, followed by a bit of shopping – another of those blissful city afternoons that makes me long for the autumn, when all this will be possible without an hour’s journey each way on the Shepperton train.