Review: Hedda Gabler

Nicola Daley as  Hedda Gabler. Pic: Comp
Nicola Daley as Hedda Gabler. Pic: Comp
Have your say

WHILE actors regard playing Hamlet a major achievement, so many actresses do where Hedda Gabler is concerned.

* * *

Royal Lyceum

Both characters are famously responsible for other’s deaths. However, so despicably loathsome is Gabler’s personality, it’s to Nicola Daley’s credit that you feel like cheering when she finally points the gun at herself.

Written by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in the late 19th century, Hedda Gabler tells the tedious tale of an over-privileged, upper-middle-class General’s daughter. A sociopath, so bored by her newly-wed academic husband, she will happily accept the consequences of her deviant behaviour as long as she’s not under anyone else’s power.

Almost 125 years after it first premiered, Richard Eyre’s 2015 version is faithful to Ibsen, but lacks any real entertainment value.

It’s hard to care about any of the characters, so unlikeable are they. And Amanda Gaughan’s stilted direction often makes the players look like they’re waiting to say their lines rather than reacting to anything. Even the set doors are as unhinged as Gabler.

There’s no deep Freudian explanation for Gabler’s twisted behaviour either. Neither is she just an independent Victorian woman who likes to demonstrate free-will, however deplorable.

Simply put, she’s a poor excuse for a human-being - and Daley does get to the dark, disturbing heart of her character.

Elsewhere, Hubby George Tesman (Lewis Hart), comes across as a Victorian geek, whereas Gabler’s old school-friend and confidante Thea Elvsted (Jade Williams) seems to be in a permanent state of high anxiety.

George’s colleague and professional competition, Eilbert Loevborg (Jack Tarlton), manages to add some genuine passion to select scenes.

Meanwhile, corrupt Judge Brack (Benny Young) reaffirms the notion that, behind the oppressive veneer, the Establishment will always carry a sinister heart.

Runs until 11 April