Monday, 5 February 2018

“Hedda Gabler” by Henrik Ibsen
Nottingham Theatre Royal
This is one Ibsen play that I’ve never seen so this modern production by Patrick Marber is my introduction to this classic.
Billed as one of the greatest dramatic parts in theatre and regarded as the female Hamlet, Lizzy West plays Hedda and Abhin Galeya plays Jurgen.
On their return from their honeymoon, Jurgen and Hedda Tessman (nee Gabler), Hedda shows that she is the one who really wears the pants in this relationship and often shows her scorn for Jurgen, his relations and friends.
Hedda, obviously bored, feeling stifled with Jurgen and having no respect for him and the material things that he has provided for her.This mainly due to the fact that she has discovered that she won't be getting the accoutrements that she had set her heart on.
Hedda is a real nasty piece of work, deceiving and lying her way through the play, not bothered about who she upsets, even providing Lovborg, Jurgen’s academic rival for many years, with the weapon that caused his death, after she destroyed his precious manuscript and then lied about it.
As Hedda is associated with the death of Lovborg which may, as Brack gleefully points out to her, cause scandal for her, Hedda takes back the puppet strings that she had previously held and again takes control, with shocking consequences.
Annabel Bates (Thea), Adam Best (Brack), Christine Kavanagh (Juliana), Madlena Nedeva (Berte), Richard Pryos (Lovborg) are all very well cast and all make for an hypnotic cast.
Ibsen's trademarks consist of writing strong, powerful female roles, as this 1890 play readily shows. He also is the master of the long pause in scripts which are wonderful for building the tension, something Director Ivo Van Hove showcases so well.
The set, which is not too dis similar to the one for "Curious Incident" is designed by Jan Versweyvelo, as is the evocative and clever lighting design.
Just listen to the creeping soundscape (Tom Gibbons) behind the actors and the tension grows and stalks you, quite literally making your heart beat just a beat faster than it did a while ago. Every sense in this play is heightened.
I also loved the Joni Mitchell track "Blue" and Nina Simone's "Wild Is The Wind" and "Hallelujah" snuck into the play creating a tasteful and sublime modernisitic soundtrack.
The modern feel is very stylised and if you didn't know that the play was written in 1890, you would never as guessed.
This truly is a classic and I loved the tension and the story. That feeling of danger evoked by Hedda and all of the hidden secrets that are discovered throughout then play, like unwrapping a pass the parcel with its many layers, but will the prize discovered at every layer be a gift?
It drew me in and it was if I was the only person in the theatre, such was the quality of the hypnotic pull of the cast and the writing.
“Hedda Gabler” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 10 February 2018 and is a must see piece of theatre. Don't let this classic power play pass you by.

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