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The Seagull Effect

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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After last year’s glorious The Vanishing Horizon (which can be seen again from 22 to 27 August at the Zoo), this new show from Oxford-based physical theatre company Idle Motion comes as a bit of a disappointment. Yes, there’s still the beautiful, effortless physicality and elegant stagecraft, but something’s missing.

It’s probably down to the subject matter. After the Asian tsunami, the Japanese earthquake and hurricane Katrina, the 1987 storm that hit the UK hardly seems significant – and it would be a huge exaggeration to say, as is stated in the play, that it reduced the whole of south-east England to a building site.

Using the storm as the starting point for a devised show might seem unwise, unless you can demonstrate how it changed the lives of ordinary people – how, as is referred to in the piece’s title, a small event can have momentous consequences. But the connections between the hurricane and the production’s poorly sketched love story are so fragile that you’re left wondering what its significance was.

The staging is supple and inventive, with much use of video projection and magical transformations of props, but by the end, you’re still unclear as to what the show is actually trying to say.

- David Kettle


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