"An accomplished and compelling drama"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 07/09/19

The second world premiere of this season is Cordelia Lynn’s new working of Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece “Hedda Gabler”. Produced in collaboration with Headlong this contemporary reimagined work will transfer next month to The Lowry Salford.

In “Hedda Gabler” Ibsen has created an incredibly complex and destructive female character who thrills with her own power to destroy. She has made bad choices from marrying a boring academic, putting her own career on hold and reluctantly becoming a mother who is now estranged from her only daughter. She maintains a close friendship with Brack and in Lynn’s adaptation her friend Thea becomes Hedda’s alienated daughter. All this leading to her seemingly pointless life of utter boredom. A former student of her husband’s, to whom she had become very close, has now reformed reovering from his alcohol addiction and has written a brilliant thesis that could jeopardise her husband’s appointment.

Lynn has cleverly remodelled Ibsen’s classic into her own stand-alone theatrical drama. Hedda and her husband are now middle aged and she is reflecting on her life – frustrated by her choice of a more traditional route and despite being of the ‘have it all’ generation she has achieved very little from her conventional life which leaves her envious, jealous, bitter and disillusioned.

Holly Race Roughan directs (she is a close friend of Lynn’s from university) and she has assembled an excellent cast to bring the play to life. Haydn Gwynne gives a brave, standout performance as the caustic, unpredictably emotional protagonist Hedda Tesman, admirably portraying the trapped toxic housewife who detests her isolated new house and is determined to wreak havoc on everyone in her path. There is good support too from Rebecca Oldfield as the cleaner Bertha and Jonathan Hyde playing the smug family friend Judge Brack. Anthony Calf takes the role of kind, boring husband George Tesman with Natalie Simpson giving a spirited, passionate portrayal as Thea.
An impressive, astutely observed production with a winning blend of powerful characterisation and shocking revelations.

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