Hedda Gabler

Henrik Ibsen (Brian Friel)

Hedda Gabler

Played out swiftly over 24 hours, Ibsen’s startlingly resonant play is a thrilling portrayal of the free-spirited Hedda Gabler. Railing against a life of crippling convention Hedda Gabler cuts through the lives of everyone in her orbit. 3.7 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
Hedda Gabler

Omniscore:

Location London
Venue Old Vic
Director Anna Mackmin
Cast Sheridan Smith, Buffy Davis, Daniel Lapaine, Anne Reid, Adrian Scarborough, Fenella Woolgar, Darrell D'Silva
From September 2012
Until November 2012
Box Office 0844 8717628
 

Played out swiftly over 24 hours, Ibsen’s startlingly resonant play is a thrilling portrayal of the free-spirited Hedda Gabler. Railing against a life of crippling convention Hedda Gabler cuts through the lives of everyone in her orbit.

Reviews

The Times

Dominic Maxwell

In this Norwegian country home there is death, blackmail, malice, romantic delusions, depression and defeat. Yet the effect is glorious. Smith finds the humanity in Hedda but never softens the blow with sentiment. A triumph all round.

13/09/2012

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The Evening Standard

Henry Hitchings

Mackmin's interpretation succeeds in feeling both Victorian and urgently modern. More than ever the play comes across as a study of a woman doomed to be a misfit. Smith’s admirable performance is its beating heart.

13/09/2012

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The Financial Times

Sarah Hemming

Friel’s adaptation sometimes spells things out too much, and the ending is both melodramatic and inaudible. But this is still a riveting and revelatory production.

14/09/2012

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The Observer

Susannah Clapp

Alighting on the hysteria and absurdities that run through the play, and helped by Brian Friel's extraordinary new version, which hauls in a shoal of anachronisms but makes the dialogue and action skip and dangerously swerve, Mackmin does for Ibsen what many writers (including Friel) and directors have done for Chekhov: she lifts a pall of piety and shows that a swift comic touch can be as disturbing as a heavy tread.

16/09/2012

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The Stage

Mark Shenton

Smith, the actress as opposed to the character she is playing, emerges triumphant in every way.

13/09/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Charles Spencer

Friel is a playwright of such distinction that I think he has earned the right to add his own ideas as well as jokes to a play not normally noted for its sense of humour. And the tension between the production's jokes and the audience's growing sense of impending disaster proves highly effective. Anna Mackmin's staging is particularly good at creating an atmosphere of nervous unease. The action is at times accompanied with an ominous movie-like sound score, and Lez Brotherston's design of Hedas's luxurious new home, with its glass walls and billowing curtains, is also highly atmospheric.

13/09/2012

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Time Out

Andrzej Lukowski

Friel's 2008 translation is a bit odd, amping up the humour with a rambling dissertation from George on a favourite pair of slippers and giving lascivious suitor Judge Brack a bizarre propensity for American jive talk. Mackmin's production doesn't exactly play this down with the foppish casting of Scarborough's George and D'Silva's Brack (about as sexually threatening as a cardigan). The men don't need to be actively silly in order to prove the point that Hedda's intelligence outstrips theirs.

13/09/2012

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The Guardian

Michael Billington

Hedda's tragedy is partly that she realises that, with her aristocratic instincts and distaste for intellectual pursuits, she is an anachronism in a world of growing equality between the sexes: that is her dilemma rather than that she is a female Jekyll and Hyde. Even Smith's admirable performance is affected by the idea of a psychological double-Hedda in that, in the first half, her affable social mask only slips in rare moments of total solitude.

13/09/2012

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The Independent

Paul Taylor

Smith would better suited to the role of Thea, the schoolmate Hedda terrorised and whom she now envies for having the courage to defy convention that she lacks. This production pointedly highlights the contrast between the two characters at the end, as Fenella Woolgar's mountingly assertive Thea gathers up the notes for reconstituting Loevborg's book and then determinedly, and rather disgustedly, walks away from the suicide scene.

13/09/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Kate Bassett

Mackmin's excessively choreographed moments don't help, with Smith running laps around her marital cage and with Darrell D'Silva's sexually predatory Judge Brack, at the grim conclusion, having to melodramatically smear his blood-stained hands down the glass doors centrestage. There's some peculiarly wooden blocking as well: too much spotlit facing downstage for key speeches, plus obtrusive mood-setting music cues. Adrian Scarborough gets plenty of laughs playing George as an eager-beaver nerd, but the marital relationship feels underdeveloped, platonic, not poignant.

16/09/2012

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The Daily Mail

Quentin Letts

Anne Reid is well cast as fussing Aunt Ju-Ju, who infuriates Hedda. Darrell D’Silva enjoys himself as a dissolute judge. Talented Fenella Woolgar is perfect as Mrs Elvsted, in love with alcoholic writer Mr Loevborg. But really it boils down to the Sheridan Smith show. Her Hedda may have perfected a Bill Clinton-ish default expression of a vain smile but it is overused. She is more petulant than wild. Fine performer though she be, the troubled, complex Hedda Gabler eludes her, I’m afraid.

16/09/2012

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