Matthew Dunster’s bold, brisk production of Torben Betts’s new version is killingly funny. Yet it doesn’t stint on the suffering. So its broad tone, stylistic innovations and salty language might startle traditionalists more accustomed to silver birches, samovars and understated introspection. Yet its essential emotional truthfulness rings out as loudly as its rueful laughter...has a balletic, almost cinematic, grace.
SAM MARLOWE, TIMES ★★★★
A fresh, free-flying new adaptation...This electric, blackly funny adaptation of The Seagull brings out both the venom and the anguish of hopeless longing in Chekhov’s 1895 original. Torben Betts’ often terse, expletive-filled update will probably have Chekhov purists pining for their samovars, yet while certain subtleties are cast aside, this is an intelligently provocative production...Though the costume is nineteenth century, both the edgy delivery of dialogue and the movement instantly feels very twenty-first century... though the laughs come easily, they are not cheap – the dialogue deliberately echoes the more hollow aspects of celebrity-obsessed self-scrutinizing existence today, and in so doing binds us more closely to the plight of Chekhov’s characters.
TIME OUT ★★★★
This robust new production of Chekhov...seizes the classic text by the scruff of the neck...I adored it... there’s a punchy energy and strong through-line of thought, perfectly mirrored by Torben Betts’s earthy new adaptation which refuses to let everyone remain in an emotionally distant 19th-century world... A high-flying Seagull.
EVENING STANDARD ★★★★
Everything about the approach to reviving Anton Chekhov’s first masterpiece for the theatre feels thought-through. Terrific. Brilliant. There’s terrific work across the board, with particular promise from Sabrina Bartlett as the flighty Nina, and as the evening naturally darkens and the years hurtle by, collective disillusion gathering in the shadows, the soulful genius of Chekhov’s drama takes glorious wing. Bravo.
DOMINIC CAVENDISH, DAILY TELEGRAPH ★★★★
Betts has already developed a fine reputation for works such as Muswell Hill or more recently Invincible and the astute social realism of both resonates through this latest commission. He amplifies Chekhov's ubiquitous subtext to further expose the petty cruelties, preoccupations and raging egoism within this landmark ensemble piece while also rendering it
surprisingly contemporary... A remarkably accessible translation supported by engaging performances.
THE STAGE ★★★★
...a production freed and set soaring by its location and design... It's good for a giggle.
SUNDAY TIMES ★★★★ (Pick of the Week)
I was totally enamoured with Matthew Dunster and Torben Betts' new version of The Seagull... I felt totally engaged in this beautifully designed and gleefully performed Chekhov adaptation and would highly recommend giving it a watch.
OFFICIAL THEATRE ★★★★
Strikingly staged Chekhov continues a strong season in the park...The lakeside country house might be teeming with passions, but this love, notes Torben Betts’s pithy free adaptation, “is all about vanity”...Betts’s colourfully contemporary interpretation astutely observes the vampiric nature of art and hollowness of celebrity.
THE ARTS DESK ★★★★
...a bold reimagining of our times... Torben Betts’s sparky free adaptation gives the 120-year-old work an effortlessly contemporary feel. This is Chekhov with real 21st-century bite, attacking the hollowness and corrosiveness of celebrity.
HAM AND HIGH ★★★★
Directed by Matthew Dunster and given a stunning panoramic setting by Jon Bausor which added a filmic vastness to many key scenes, Betts' audacious version is by turns harrowing and hilarious, eliciting screams of joy from a good-humoured audience...There is, at times, rather more invention than adaptation but the defence of this is in the intention. The
spirit of any additions is utterly faithful to the dramatist's approach... I will go again towards the end of the run to see if they've got even slicker, but what I saw last night will be difficult to top. In short, the Regent's Park Seagull is a masterpiece. It has guts, it has soul.
...a sharp, darkly funny and intriguing approach...Torben Betts’ warmly colloquial new version, peppered with little anachronisms, neatly draws the link with our own celebrity and selfie-obsessed age... It’s clever and mischievous, emphasising that this is theatre while reminding us that Chekhov pinpointed deep underlying truths.
Torben Betts' newly commissioned adaptation of The Seagull works a treat...The Seagull is yet another triumph for the Open Air - this season at Regent's Park is shaping up to be one of the theatre’s best yet.
Chekhov classic The Seagull, is given a new lease of life in a new version by Torben Betts, to mark the 120th Anniversary of the play. The Open Air Theatre commissioned piece is faithful to the original (bar a few added curse words), and plays out beautifully in the sumptuous settings of Regent’s Park... The Seagull might be a tough old bird to swallow, but this
production soars high above the clouds.
SO SO GAY ★★★★
...there is likely to be one thing upon which everyone can agree: No one has ever seen a production of The Seagull quite like this...There is a robust modernity about the language which makes the situations and characters instantly understandable, relatable and recognisable...it distils the essence of Chekhov’s intent in a coherent and tangible way...There is much to admire and be dazzled by in this clever and intelligent production... a version of The Seagull to be savoured.
The Seagull, a play that explores artistic, social, and familial conflicts, is given fresh life and relevance in this new adaptation, which is replete with invention, humour, poignancy, and beauty...Betts’ adaptation may unsettle some, but it can surely be said that he fully exploits the humour that is to be found in Chekhov’s work...It is particularly true of this production to say that the theatre becomes a mystical, liminal space, both within and without the city.
Matthew Dunster’s production is engaging all the way... The free verbal adaptation by Torben Betts is slangy and vivid: overhead, the great slanted mirror lets us look down on them all like seagulls ourselves, and marvel and the struggle and absurdity of human life.
LIBBY PURVES, THEATRECAT ★★★★
The run of incredible theatre at Regent’s Park continues with The Seagull... Working with this new version by Torben Betts, Dunster has made Chekhov into edge-of-seat entertainment, accessible, enjoyable and profoundly natural.
...this new version to mark the play’s 120th anniversary and it certainly brings Chekov kicking and screaming into the 21st century... an impressive production... bursting with crossed lovers, raw emotions and tormented souls ending in an extraordinary final scene – a must see!
UK THEATRE NETWORK
The skill of Matthew Dunster’s production at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is to make a play that occurs in a repressive atmosphere work in a large, outdoor setting... this production should win over the majority of audience members.
An inspired and bold adaptation of Chekhov’s first masterpiece.
WHAT'S ON LONDON
Betts’ work brings The Seagull into a modern setting, with colloquial language the audience members will be familiar with, yet he ensures the heart of Chehkov’s play remains the same...The Open Air Theatre continues its run of fantastic productions.
BE THE RED CARPET
Torben Betts’ sharp new version of Chekhov’s masterpiece brings the language of this 120-year-old classic bang up to date.
A thoughtful Seagull for our times and pretty sparky theatre.
Betts version brings out Chekhov’s latent humour and is sharply funny and wittily acted, even irreverent at times, the jaunty translation injecting the 21st century into the dialogue without losing any of Chekhov’s gravitas.
THE VIEW FROM THE UPPER CIRCLE