Covid continues to linger in Emilia Clarke’s play ‘The Seagull’

I have tried to watch Emilia Clarke’s new play ‘The Seagull’ three times; I am still yet to see it. It’s no one’s fault, of course — but after three failed attempts, one does start to wonder why I bother.

When a new stage adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’ was announced in December 2019, I was instantly elated. Not only was it meant to star iconic Game of Throne’s actress Emilia Clarke, but the play held immense personal value to me. During my A-level Drama years (a long time ago indeed) I performed a monologue from the play. After dropping a few subtle hints to mum, we decided to book tickets. A nostalgic play from my youth, a star-studded cast — what could possibly go wrong?

But in March 2020 the world came to a pause due to the unprecedented (bet you haven’t heard that word in a while) Covid pandemic. Boris Johnson announced a full lockdown – and the theatre industry ground to a halt. This meant, of course, a plethora of emails detailing the cancellation of various productions, including ‘The Seagull’. In our disappointment, we rebooked for 2021. “It’ll be fine by next year”, we thought. “It’ll be worth the wait”. Oh how wrong we were.

In October 2021 the play was once again cancelled due to the ongoing Covid outbreak. We weren’t surprised, with months of lockdowns and pandemic spikes growing somewhat wearisome by this point. With back-and-forth email transactions with ATG Tickets, we were given some vouchers. Determined to make the most of it, in November 2021 we went to see ‘The Tina Turner Musical’. With a couple bottles of Prosecco, back row seats, and iconic performances of ‘Proud Mary’, we had a great time, despite the aforementioned struggles. Besides, when two country bumpkins visit the big city, the novelty never wears off.

But we still hadn’t seen ‘The Seagull’; and our love of Emilia Clarke remained unquenched. When it was announced that the play would re-open at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 29th June 2022, therefore, we decided to book again for 9th July. Would we finally get to see the play that we’d waited 2 years for?

Spoiler alert: no, we didn’t.

Let me set the scene. Mother and son travel three hours from Devon and Durham respectively, to the heart of central London. We spend a small fortune on alcohol and hotel budgets. We decide to go to Camden Market for the day, and throw our money on cheap fake goods. I go off on a shopping spree (don’t judge me), leaving mum to browse the market. A few minutes later, I receive a text. It’s from mum. “I’ve got some bad news”, she writes. At first I thought someone had died (thankfully that wasn’t the case). I return to find mum with a somewhat displeased look. “It’s been cancelled again”, she says. “A member of the cast has got Covid.”

After travelling for hours and spending a small fortune, we were both pretty unimpressed. What a total waste of everyone’s time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no one’s fault – of course. It seems, we both reflected, ‘The Seagull’ is cursed for us. Maybe we’re not meant to see it after all. And as if that’s not enough, I keep getting adverts on Facebook about it. Not only is it cursed, but it’s coming back to haunt me.

I jest, of course. We’ve just had a stroke of bad luck, that’s all. But after three failed attempts, one does start to wonder whether it’s meant to be or not. It seems in this case, it’s not. But all is not lost – there’s plenty more plays to see!

Featured image: Donald Tong on Pexels

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