Reviews from Paul's pen

Reviews from Paul's pen


Hedda Gabler

Review by: Paul Towers, 23 October 2017
Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen rewritten by Patrick Marber
A National Theatre production
Curve 23 – 28 October 2017

“is Hedda bad or bored?”

Originally written by Ibsen in 1890 this is basically a tragedy about a woman who has sold herself short in the marriage stakes. She thought herself to be on the shelf and grabbed the ring proffered by Tesman, an acedemic, on the understanding that his current penury would be alleviated upon his elevation to professorship. Closeted in a large barren apartment that they can’t afford to furnish (but somehow do manage to employ a maid) upon their return from honeymoon the cracks in their marriage quickly materialise.
The big question for the audience is to wonder whether Hedda is bad or simply bored as she unravels before our eyes.
The beautifully stark white set is designed by Jan Versweyveld and dwarfs the actors highlighting the isolation and neurosis of Hedda. He also designed the lighting which is used to good effect to show the passing of time.
The story will particularly appeal to fans of Scandi-detective and Nordic Noir stories. Things move slowly but inexorably to a climax while lives intermingle and old loves are revealed.
Lizzy Watts as Hedda Gabler is a finely tuned portrait of suppressed emotions, social frustration and machiavellian string pulling. Tesman (Abhin Galeya), her husband, is permanently diverted by his academic aspirations. A fine supporting cast make good use of Curve’s very adaptable auditorium for entrances and exits through the audience thus signalling their arrivals and adding to the tension.
This is a National Theatre production so the acting is top notch and the production values are very high.
Patrick Marber has cleverly inserted little laughs in the story to alleviate the intense emotions and allow the audience the breathe. His adaptation has also updated the language to the modern idiom which makes the story very easy to follow.
Directed by Ivo van Howe there are plenty of Pinter-esqe silences as we are invited to follow the thought processes of the characters.
Sound designer Tom Gibbons has created a very subtle soundtrack with some surprising vocals.
Hedda Gabler is at Curve until 28 October. Full details at
First published on Western Gazette

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