Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Volcano Erupting

At Volcano Theatre

Volcano- Seagulls , Bunker Theatre, Volcano , April 24, 2015
At Volcano Theatre by Volcano- Seagulls The reviews of productions by Volcano can be read below:

"147 Questions About Love": 07 August 2014

"At Home for the Weekend": November 19, 2005

"Destination": 20 October 2001: 29 September 2001

"A Few Little Drops": 11 June 2007

"Hamletmaschine": 21 November 2019

"Hitting Funny": 29 April 2005

"i-Witness": 21 December 2008

"Macbeth, The Director's Cut": 01 October 2000: 18 October 2016

"Moments of Madness": 04 June 2000

"The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet": 22 October 2004: October 23 2004

"After the Orgy": 01 July 1998

"The Populars": 17 August 2019

"Private Lives": 01 April 2001: 26 April 2001: 31 March 2001

"Seagulls": 13 August 2017: 24 April 2015

"Shelf Life": 2 May 2010

"Talk Sex Show": 26 September 2002

"This Imaginary Woman": 14 March 2003: 14 March 2003: 13 March 2003

"The Town That Went Mad": 01 January 1998

"Unfinished Business": 23 August 23 2002

"Unknown Pleasures: Threshold": 04 June 2008


The characters of Chekhov may yearn for the city they rarely reach. But marooned in the country they certainly like to speak about it. Every character in “the Seagull” talks of the lake that abuts the action of Chekhov’s 1895 play. It is that attention in the source material for Volcano’s wild and thrilling version that designer Camilla Clarke has focussed on. The theatrical impact of her concept is achieved in two ways. Not only is the design audacious and excitingly original but director Paul Davies has arranged the action in such a way that its full realisation only becomes clear to the audience in a stunning visual coup.

The Bunker Theatre is a slightly euphemistic term for Volcano’s newest home. It does not quite conform to a notion of theatre as a place of architectural flourish and interior finish. The large, unfolding, formerly commercial space has its ceiling of blistered paint, punctured plaster and sawn-off, angled rods. But if theatre is a place where players and musicians, choreographers and designers assemble to fuse sequences and images that matter, then that makes the Bunker total theatre.

Some motifs from Chekhov’s provincial Russia appear. The philosophically-minded Doctor is a regular. “All life must end” says the realist Doctor Dorn “It’s the natural order of things.” Mairi Phillips wields a sizeable axe to chop wood but her Arkadina is less a grandee of conventional presentation than a storming, physically provocative figure. The play-within-a-play is earthy, declamatory and ecstatic. “Indulgent, avant-garde shit” is her verdict in a vibrant Scots accent. Joanna Simpkins’ Nina is a rapturous, animated, free spirit. Trigorin, Konstantin and Dorn are the balletic Gethin Alderman, Christopher Elson and Neal McWillliams.

Catherine Bennett is movement director for the action that ascends to points of wildness. An all-cast dance to the Clash and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” is a highlight. But the rhythm is leavened by a sequence of some embarrassed comedy. It features the use of five suitcases and, Volcano-style, very little else.

The last Volcano production at Edinburgh was an elusive whispering chamber piece. “Seagulls” is its counterpoint, large in scale with a notable sound design. Eifion Porter’s role as set constructor is crucial. The sound includes singing from a bass voice so deep that it does full honour to the liturgical tradition of Russia.

“What we need is new theatre, what we need is new forms” declares Konstantin early on. It is a need that “Seagulls” supplies in full. Over in the world of microblogs, with its tendency to extremes of malice balanced with hyperbole, there is much to cheer the makers of “Seagulls.” “Beautiful, bold and brave” writes one viewer of disguised identity. “Bold. Audacious. Riveting. Explosive. Exuberant. Watch if you can. Great theatre” writes a Goodacre without prename. As a reaction in just eleven words the author has got every word dead right.

“Seagulls” continues until 2nd May.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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