Hull New Theatre – until Saturday 18 November 2017. Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams
Hedda Gabler is a nasty piece of work, a damaged woman, one who seems to have everything but ultimately has nothing, a manipulator, someone who twists and plays with truth, a woman on the path to disaster, a woman appearing to have power but powerless. In short not someone I would be cheering on and yet the horror of what unfolded on stage made me pity her and want things to work out for her. This powerful production by the National Theatre really is a must see. This is one of those plays where everything comes together to produce an enthralling (and sometimes horrifying) night at the theatre. There were points at which I gasped out loud with the horror of Hedda’s situation and the downward spiral her life was taking.
The set was very stark and pared down, a large partially decorated apartment with little in it, making life seem drab and Hedda often appear shrunken in size, lost in her unfinished apartment. Music and sound effects were used well to build up the tension as the night went on.
Lizzy Watts, as Hedda, gave an outstanding performance, never off the stage, her timing and delivery of her lines perfect. She used her whole body in the performance, squatting and peering and making herself shrink in size and being very, very still. Stillness was a feature of this performance with her maid Berte (Madlena Nedeva) being a brooding presence at the side of the stage, sometimes seeming to mirror Hedda.
Abhin Galeya had just the right touch as Hedda’s husband Tesman, wanting to show off his possession (Hedda) and at times being totally oblivious of her. Adam Best played Brack superbly with his two sides, the pleasant friendly side he presents to Tesman and others and the manipulative threatening manner he has with Hedda. Christine Kavanagh (Juliana), Annabel Bates (Mrs Elvsted) and Richard Pyros (Lovborg) all played their roles well, being sadly believable.
I left the Theatre reflecting on how lucky I was to have had choices and the ability to take them – unlike the women in this play.