The Seagull at The Lowry

One of Anton Chekhov’s masterpieces, in a vibrant and critically acclaimed new version by Anya Reiss

By Manchester's Finest | January 24th '14

The Seagull, one of Anton Chekhov’s masterpieces, in a vibrant and critically acclaimed new version by Anya Reiss, is the final production under The Library Theatre Company banner before it becomes HOME, the new organisation created by its merger with Cornerhouse.

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This compelling version re-imagines the play in the 21st century, while retaining all of the original’s drama and comedy.

It is also Chris Honer’s final production as the Artistic Director of the Library Theatre, after leading the Company for over 20 years. This is the first time the play has been seen outside London, where it was described by Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph as “colloquial, sexy, and downright perceptive.”

“We haven’t produced a Chekhov for well over 30 years,” says Chris Honer, “but when Anya Reiss’s wonderful new version of The Seagull appeared in 2012, it was an irresistible choice. It is regarded as a serious play in some quarters, but there are lots of jokes. It is shot through with humour, as well as tragedy.

“I am lucky to be working with a superb ensemble cast which contains a number of actors who’ve done excellent work for the Library Theatre Company over the years, and it will be a fitting finale to our proud history. The Seagull has also been a personal passion of mine for many years so I’m delighted to at last be directing it as my final production for the Company.”

When a famous actress, with her celebrated novelist lover, visits the isolated country estate of her brother, it plunges the family into a torrent of tensions, both comic and dramatic, particularly when her insecure son tries to impress her with a play he’s written.

As well as including actors familiar to the Library Theatre Company audience, the cast includes a number of distinguished stage actors performing with the company for the first time.

Graeme Hawley, familiar to TV viewers as Coronation Street serial-killer John Stape, but who is known to Library Theatre Company theatre-goers from appearances in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Rock ‘n’ Roll, is Trigorin, the idealistic writer who has designs on budding young actress Nina, played by Sophie Robinson. Sophie appeared in the Library Theatre Company production of The Heretic at The Lowry last autumn.

Trigorin’s lover, Arkadina, is played by Susie Trayling, who has a large number of National Theatre credits to her name, and locally, at Bolton Octagon. Arkadina’s son, Konstantin, is played by Ben Allen, who has credits with Edward Hall’s Propeller company.

One of the country’s leading stage actors, Peter Macqueen, a graduate of Manchester University in 1979, returns to the Library Theatre Company stage for the first time since appearing as Fagin in Oliver Twist in Christmas 2005 to play landowner Sorin; Christopher Wright, recently on stage at The Lowry in the company’s Wanted! Robin Hood, plays the estate doctor, Dorn; David Crellin, most recently seen in our award-winning site-specific production of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, and coincidentally alongside Graeme Hawley in Coronation Street – Graeme famously killed David’s character before burying him in a makeshift grave having stolen his identity – is Shamrayev, the estate manager.

Shamrayev is married to Polina, played by well-known Manchester actress Meriel Scholfield, who appeared alongside Graeme Hawley in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Their daughter Masha, one of life’s dreamers, is played by RADA graduate Victoria Lloyd; and finally Tom McHugh, another RADA graduate, takes the role of schoolteacher Medvedenko.

Please note there is some strong language and smoking on stage in The Seagull.

Dates: Friday 21 February – Saturday 8 March 2014.

Venue: The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Salford M50 3AZ.
Box office: 0843 208 6010.
Web: www.librarytheatre.com/event/the-seagull