The setting is a country property somewhere in parched wheatbelt Australia. It is a four-hour drive from the city, with patchy phone reception. In Andrew Upton’s adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, the character’s names remain the same, but we find Irina, Constantin, and Boris et al. in twenty-first-century Australia, dealing with mozzies and moaning about the internet, or lack thereof.
The contemporary Australianness, however, never really moves beyond justifying the accents of the actors. For the most part, the dialogue and performances implied that we were still in nineteenth-century Russia. The adaptation makes little attempt to contextualise the characters’ joy and angst within their revised temporal and geographical setting. It was as if they had all time-travelled from 1897 to modern Australia without noticing.