What a feast.
When my daughter suggested that we absolutely must see Emilia Clarke in The Seagull, I managed to get only moderately excited about the idea. Having not seen a single episode of The Game of Thrones, I could not get fully star-struck.
I envisaged the play being Emilia Clarke’s one woman show with the rest of the actors reduced to lurking in her shadow. I could not have been more wrong.
On entering the auditorium, the first thing we noticed was a person lying lifeless on stage. The second thing we noticed was the absence of any decorations to speak of. The set was a plywood-framed box, with a stack of green plastic chairs in the corner. Over the next 20 minutes, the actors came in, one by one, climbing onto the stage, taking one chair each and sitting down, their backs to the audience. Emilia Clarke was one of the last ones to come, took her chair and sat down.
The first thing that is likely to strike you about Emilia Clarke is how physically tiny she is. We checked since she is 5’1″.
The second thing that is likely to strike you about her is how young she looks. In the good lighting, she could pass for a schoolgirl. She is 35.
When the other actors were scrambling onto the stage, barefoot, dressed in plain modern clothes, I noticed several vaguely familiar faces, but I was not sure.
It was only after the stage lights came on that I knew for sure. I gasped, and gasped again.
Sara Powell?? Really? The always calm and collected Death in Paradise and Silent Witness actress?
Indira Varma? What? I only watched her in The Capture a few days ago.
Robert Glenister? The guy from Hustle and Sherwood? Just like that? Can’t be!
It stopped being Emilia Clarke show before it even properly began and became a BBC iPlayer best bits revisited show. Christmas never came so early for me before.
The next two and and a half hours felt like I was in a dream. The play was superbly acted, every character was brilliant, the bare stage and lack of decorations did not matter, all that mattered was the dialogue and each actor giving their best. Chekhov was all there too, even if the text had been slightly updated for modern day settings, with people complaining about poor mobile phone signal.
To be fair to Emilia Clarke, she was great in it too, but it was definitely not the Emilia Clarke show.
After it ended, we walked to the stage door and waited. Emilia Clarke apparently had already left, but we couldn’t care less. We got our program signed by two actors, and got our photos taken with two others.
Thank you Emilia Clarke for making my daughter want to see you in The Seagull, it meant that I got to see a few of my favourite actors too.