|Hedda   photographed by John Reeves|
REVIEW Hedda. By Emma Willis from Hedda Gabler by Ibsen. Star of the Sea Theatre.
General admission. Evening performance Friday 13th October 2017
Such a clever, simmering story
If you have never seen this Ibsen classic, there’s plenty to enjoy in this new version by Emma Willis. If you have seen Hedda Gabler before, this is a wonderful chance to re-immerse yourself in the incredible study of a strong, much admired woman. She circles her prey, plays with them, and comes in for the kill, only to find that all she desires will never be.
Hedda is trapped. Indeed, everyone in Hedda is trapped: by social convention, by duty, by gender, by love or spurned love. This intimate production highlights the hypocrisy behind the nice social facades, the despair of the genuinely caring. But ultimately, a terrible struggle for power is played out on stage, and Hedda, by virtue of being a woman, doesn’t stand a chance.
Micky Rose plays Hedda as conniving and malicious from the start; from her first prophetic words: ‘I have no children’. In her dealings with Aunt Julia and Thea she is deliberately cruel, treating them with nothing but contempt. Danny Bolt is impressive as Hedda’s doting husband, George Tesman. He is gentle, kindly, absorbed in his studies and utterly unaware of the seething violence that bubbles within his beloved wife.
Maria Hemphill is heart-breaking as the devoted, love struck Thea, trapped like a songbird in a cage, gentle, flighty and nervy. Richard Holborn is wonderfully mannered as Lovborg, the man who still holds a flame for Hedda, and who is erratic, eccentric and consumed with all sorts of secret passions. Judge Brack, played with restrained evil by Ross Scott, has much in common with Hedda – he likes getting his own way by any means. Aunt Julia is the only one not to fall under Hedda’s spell. Chris Snell brings great warmth and generosity to the role; she is much like her nephew, but has the insight that George lacks so tragically. Holding the story together is the lush Singer/Miss Diana (Ella Arendelle) who brings music, humour and good old fashioned sauciness to a very dark story. Hedda is a very dark story. But this production ensures the darkness doesn’t shroud the wit, irony and emotional truths. Hedda’s clever twists and turns will keep you enthralled to the last dying moments.
Wendy Lewis. (Playwright, for TheatreBlog)