Skip to content


The Seagull Effect

4 starsTouring England and Wales during April and May (schedule and information)
Reviewed at the New Diorama Theatre, London by Alice de Cent

Idle Motion’s trademark visual storytelling is on fine form in their latest offering, The Seagull Effect. Having charmed Edinburgh audiences in 2011, they’re now on tour with both this show and their earlier piece, The Vanishing Horizon. Clearly ambitious, The Seagull Effect attempts a whirlwind hour of spectacle and imagination – cramming in Idle Motion’s clockwork ingenuity, an estranged couple reunited by the 1987 storm, and a dash of chaos theory too.

ImageProjecting a revolving earth onto a sphere of umbrellas, and catching images in their hands, the company certainly use the technology to great effect.  But the overall spirit of the piece is one of handmade creation – with many delightful moments being built from the startlingly simple use of everyday objects, transformed before our eyes.

Taking inspiration from the famous storm of 1987, The Seagull Effect explores the consequences of tiny, random events, as it follows an estranged couple thrown unexpectedly back into each other’s lives. There is some winning narration from Grace Chapman as she recounts her journey to a job interview – though we meet her through a slightly awkward shift in the first scene, when she steps out of the audience to begin her story.

Asking us to accept her speech as that of an audience member rang a little false, since she proved to be playing a woman twice her age – creating a moment of confusion for me, as I recalibrated exactly which disbeliefs I was required to suspend. Notwithstanding such minor false starts, the stunning stage pictures and playful invention quickly won me over.

More accomplished than The Vanishing Horizon, there remains room for growth in the development of narrative. Whilst youthful exuberance and genuine feeling saves the piece from feeling like style over substance, there are obvious limitations in the script – perhaps thrown into harsher light by such accomplished visual storytelling. Still, Idle Motion are a young company to show such promise, so they have plenty of time to develop the weaker elements of their writing, movement and performances.

The Seagull Effect is both rewarding and entertaining – and most memorably, full of beautiful bare-hands creativity. Attempting to delve into the nature of relationships, random events and rainfall in just an hour may be overreaching.  But such bravery is to be applauded, and signals greater things to come from this highly charged and talented company.

<< The Dark Room   The Vanishing Horizon >>