October 25, 2007

The Seagull

Saw the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Chekhov's The Seagull last night starring Ian McKellen and Romola Garai. Spending three-and-a-half hours absorbed in this Russian soap opera had seemed daunting at first, but the performance flew by. It got me thinking that we may be ready for another film adaptation. The last one was in 1968 starring Vanessa Redgrave as the fame-obsessed aspiring thespian, Nina. Modern audiences might not have the patience for such a character-driven story, so it would have to be an arthouse thing, but I think it could be beautifully filmed. Not sure I'd cast Garai though. I do like her, a lot, but I started to find her wide-eyed exuberance and gesturing a little grating last night. Too over-the-top, perhaps. (Though I LOVED Frances Barber, who played the melodramatic actress Arkadina. She did "over-the-top" to absolute perfection.)

My one pet peeve about live theater: Audience members who OVERlaugh. This happens so much in Shakespeare plays, and it happened again last night. As if by laughing loudly, people get to tell those seated around them, "I get it. I'm erudite. Ah-ha-ha-ha!" There is simply no need. Pretentious.


  1. Anonymous2:06 PM

    I didn't have the opportunity to see Romola live, but she is a wonderful screen actress and I'm sure she would tone down her performance for film if that were the case. She hasn't done an awful lot of theatre, plus there aren't a lot of actors out there who can do both film and theatre and do them incredibly well. Just my thoughts!

  2. Absolutely. I normally love Romola (except for that Dirty Dancing II disaster)....I wish I could have seen the version with Natalie Portman playing Nina in New York.