25 June 2023
THE SEAGULL [DIE MÖWE] (Schaubühne Theatre, Berlin) Review

Thomas Ostermeier (the artistic director at Schaubühne) had previously brought several of his productions to the Barbican in London, but I haven’t seen a single one as yet. Whilst in Berlin, however, a friend invited me to see Ostermeier’s production of “The Seagull”.  I thought it was a good opportunity to familiarise myself with his style, even though the play was entirely in German with absolutely no surtitles, so I had to rely on my recollection of the text in order to follow along.

First things first:  the show is just shy of 3 hours long and has no intermission.  This would never fly in London or New York.  And yet, even that long and in German, it felt far more pacy than the Jamie Lloyd’s West End version.  The actors are energetic, there is a suitable amount of arguments and screaming…  The play feels alive.

There was also a bit of improv in the middle apparently (I twigged that they went off-script, but obviously couldn’t work out the dialog) with conversation turning into what kind of people might be in the audience tonight.  Everyone was laughing, ,so it made for a good energy boost.

Stephanie Eidt as Arkadina was superb.  She was mocking Konstantin’s play with delicious gusto, pitching a proper fight with Trigorin, and seriously channeling a famous actress who is used to getting her way.  Joachim Meyerhoff as Trigorin was delightful and animated, so you could totally see why Nina would end up with a crush on him.  Laurenz Laufenberg as Konstantin was every bit as neurotic as you would expect.

The last scene was extremely effective and tied up the show with a neat little bow.  Another highlight of the night was the set, which was essentially one gigantic tree sprawling its way into the audience.

I would’ve undoubtedly enjoyed it more had there been surtitles, but this production certainly makes me want to go see the next Ostermeier production whenever that comes to London.

Cheapskate enjoyment value: £3.


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