Hedda Gabler at His Majesty's Theatre

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Just married. Buried alive. Hedda longs to be free.

After a sold-out run at the National Theatre, Patrick Marber’s bold new version of ‘Hedda Gabler’ has come to Aberdeen for a stint at His Majesty’s Theatre. 

Lizzy Watts plays the titular role and is joined by Abhin Galeya as Hedda’s husband, Jørgen Tesman, Christine Kavanagh as Tesman’s aunt, Juliane Tesman, Annabel Bates as Thea Elvsted, Adam Best as Judge Brack, Madlena Nedeva as Berte and lastly, Richard Pyros as Ejlert Løvborg.

‘Hedda Gabler’ is a Norweigan play written by Henrik Ibsen which had its first premiere in 1891. Hedda is now considered to be one of the greatest dramatic roles in theatre and is said to be the female ‘Hamlet’.

Ivo Van Hove, a Tony Award-winning director made his stage debut with the work in London, most notably the production was distinctively period-less. It’s a perfect of Chekhov’s gun, a dramatic principle that says that every element should be necessary, which adheres not only to the to the simple set design but every word uttered.

The play is an uncensored look at depression, Hedda puts on a mask for the sake of keeping up appearances but her depression is always on show from her inability to get dressed properly.  She seems to thrive on having a power over people; which is a power she lacks in herself. Take her interaction with Thea; she enjoys prying out every little detail of her life and using it to make her feel terrible and momentarily Gabler feels better.

Hedda can’t escape her life, her home or even worse she can’t escape from Judge Black.

Best’s performance is a perfect example of how sexism can go hidden. That is until one of the final scenes in which he has full control over her and it is truly disgusting and difficult to watch but it is an unashamedly frank portrayal of a man in power whose hatred of women is uncontrollable. The scene drives Hedda to take her own life after it ruins every last bit of strength to go on. It was her last chance to find the “pure spontaneous beauty” that she longed to have.

The play is a poignant look at how much society is still very much a man’s world.

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