‘FOR once in my life I want to control a man’s fate.”
So utters Hedda Gabler, the titular character in the latest production from the Royal Lyceum.
When Henrik Ibsen’s classic play premiered in Germany in 1891, its stark realism did not immediately endear it to critics and audiences alike. Today, however, it is considered a classic of world theatre, and the role of Hedda herself one of the great dramatic roles in theatre history.
Ibsen’s tale of passion and desperation follows a dangerously irresistible woman as she rushes headlong towards a disaster destined to embrace all who have fallen under her spell.
“I am thrilled to be directing Hedda Gabler as my first show as an associate artist with the Lyceum,” says director Amanda Gaughan.
“Hedda is considered one of the greatest female roles in theatre as she attempts to exert control and influence in a male-dominated world.”
With a distinguished father, a reputable husband and a respectable home, Hedda’s life is beyond reproach, anything else would be scandalous.
For excitement she turns to the lives of others; enchanting and beguiling them, bending them to her will, determined to be a woman of consequence, whatever the consequences.
The Lyceum’s new adaptation is by Richard Eyre, with music by Claire McKenzie.
“Ibsen’s work continues to stand the test of the time,” continues Gaughan. “Richard Eyre has written a remarkable adaptation with the language being both contemporary and viscerally bold but staying true to Ibsen’s intentions while creating a fully imaginative and relevant discourse for our contemporary audience.
“In Hedda Gabler we have real people who exist in a domestic situation and, over the course of the 36 hours, struggle to deal with life and death situations, and how to conform to the societal constructs of being a successful and reputable man or woman.”
Highlighting that battle it’s worth noting that Ibsen titled the play Hedda Gabler, despite the character’s married name being Hedda Tesman. He wrote: ‘My intention in giving it this name was to indicate that Hedda as a personality is to be regarded rather as her father’s daughter than her husband’s wife.’
Gaughan adds, “Our characters are in conflict with maintaining perceived societal ideals: where men can take direct and public action, whereas women were less, and expected to remain behind the scenes.
“I think it is highly interesting to look at how far we have moved forward in equality and what aspects we still have to address.”
Joining Nicola Daley as Hedda Gabler on the Gridlay Street stage are Sally Edwards as Julia Tesman, Lewis Hart as George Tesman and Vari Sylvester as Berthe. With Jack Tarlton as Eilbert Loevborg, Jade Williams as Thea Elvsted and Benny Young as Judge Brack completling the cast.
Hedda Gabler, Lyceum Theatre, Grindlay Street, until 11 April, 7.30pm (matinees 2pm), £12.50-£29, 0131-248 4848