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The Seagull

by Anton Chekhov

King's Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival


The Seagull is a big, beautiful, slow-burning, but finally rich and almost flawless piece of theatre, so profoundly entertaining that I felt I could happily have watched these characters evolve over days and weeks, rather than three and a half hours:This sense of dramatic space is magnificently reflected in Ferdinand Woerbauer’s set, which opens up the great expanse of the King’s Theatre stage so that even as the setting changes between acts, we can see the materials for the whole play spread out before us throughout the evening. Stein’s mysterious way with time itself, allowing it to ebb and glow at what seems like the speed of ordinary life, but with an added dimension of compelling intensity.

– The Scotsman, Joyce McMillan

The acting across the whole ensemble is a sublime mix of understatement and melodrama, pinpointing the passions raging beneath the deathly civility of everyday life. You couldn’t ask for a better production.

– The List (Glasgow & Edinburgh events guide), Mark Fisher

Fiona Shaw presents us with a woman who is wreathed in actorly display yet is also in a state of nervous panic: This kind of behavioural detail extends to all the characters. Iain Glen’s Trigorin is a revelation in that, for once, we grasp that it is partly the novelist’s self-loathing that leads him wantonly to destroy Nina. When Glen talks of his “literary storehouse”, he beats his brains as if aware that he uses experience as a substitute for imagination. Jodhi May’s Nina, desperate for celebrity seduction, is like a bird walking naively into the waiting trap.

– The Guardian, Michael Billington

The Seagull takes fresh flight. Peter Stein’s sensational, superbly acted production of Chekhov’s tragic-comedy of unrequited love liberates the play from the familiar frame of sexual obsession and its slant upon Hamlet-like mother-son relations.

– Evening Standard, Nicholas de Jongh

There is fine work from Charlotte Emmerson as a sharp, chronically depressed Masha; Paul Jesson as a touching Sorin; and Tom Georgeson, in magnificently unpleasant form as that most disobliging of stewards, Shanraev.

– The Daily Telegraph, Charles Spencer

Glen exudes a magnetic charge, his ardour slowly burning through his cool slouch. Pennington’s performance is exceptionally fine-tuned as well, with the Doctor’s caring sagacity giving way to callous shrugging at the incurability of the human condition.

– The Independent on Sunday, Kate Bassett

As AJ Weissbard’s slow-burning lighting draws ever gloomier, the tattered remains of Konstantin’s once-proud theatre look for all the world like a ship run aground, the dead bird beside it the most haunting of totems in this vivid, brilliant production of insight and profundity.

– The Herald, Neil Cooper


Elliot Cowan
Charlotte Emmerson
Tom Georgeson
Iain Glen
Boris Alexeyevitch Trigorin
Paul Jesson
Jodhi May
Dearbhla Molloy
Polina Andreyevna
Fiona Shaw
Irina Nikilayevna Arkadina
Cillian Murphy
Konstantin Treplev
Michael Pennington
Yevgeny Sergeyevitch Dorn
Janine Mellor
Ronnie Simon
Yakov (a labourer)
Jordan Young
Peter Stein
Ferdinand Wogerbauer
Set Designer
Arturo Annecchino


The Seagull takes fresh flight. Peter Stein’s sensational, superbly acted production of Chekhov’s tragic-comedy of unrequited love.