THE SEAGULL (1962)
Written by Anton Chekov
Directed by Anthony Richardson
Ian McKellen in the role of Konstantin
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
29 January 1962 - 4 February 1962
Words from Ian McKellen
At last we were putting on a masterpiece — two weeks rehearsal for only eight performances of what the management modestly advertised as "Chekhov's Fine Play". The Stratford-upon-Avon Herald probably got it right: "The play needs much stronger ensemble work than the present Belgrade Company can possibly be expected to give. It is not just a matter of working together, as a team, over a period "one has to have undistracted time for Chekhov. Yet the company manage to give an ensemble performance which at least pays attention to the cadences, nuances and timing of the piece."
At Cambridge I had played Baron Tuzenbach in Three Sisters, with little distinction. As Konstantin I was again at sea — missing the rebelliousness of the young playwright (the easiest part of the character) and instead wallowing in some generalised romanticism. I've since noted other Konstantins making the same mistake.