Brighton Fringe 2013
A tale of unrequited love inspired by The Seagull set within a deep and dark space reeking with atmosphere.
This two hander is a brave attempt at linking political protest with personal loss and unrequited love. The setting is the Old Police Cells Museum, a dark atmospheric space, lit with a few desk lights and a host of tea lights in jars (which, for health and safety reasons presumably, were actual lights rather than candles). It was a promenade piece between two rooms and the two actresses used the space well. Within the larger room there was a television with short videos, showing interviews with people attending a CND protest meeting in the 1960s, and later an impassioned speech by Konstantin.
Initially, and for an uncomfortable time, one of the actresses (Masha, we later found out) was sitting on her legs with various artifacts which she looked at and felt. The other, Nina, invited us to come and listen to a performance of hers that she was setting up. When the performance finally took place, she spoke lines from The Seagull accompanied by a toy xylophone. Interspersed with this were the excerpts on the television from the CND protests.
This first half or two thirds of the piece felt disconnected and confusing. It was only when things started heating up somewhat, with Nina repeating her speech and reflecting the confusion, anguish, nervousness and turmoil that she was going through, and Masha making a quite superb speech of her loss and melancholia, that things finally started to come together and evoke some interest. The confrontation between the two women across the room was an interaction with real tension and emotion.
The use of music and song was also good, with great voices from the two actresses (Marie Rabe as Nina and Eva Savage as Masha).
This production sometimes felt repetitive and unnecessarily confusing. Why for example, did the phone keep ringing with no one answering it? What was the purpose of linking The Seagull with the CND marches? It felt as if there was a reason there which the company must have explored but it never came across and was perhaps lost amongst the intended innuendo and the hope that the audience would understand.
This piece seemed to suffer from a very real problem faced by devised theatre; the need for a decent writer.