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Hedda Gabler – Abbey Theatre – Review

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Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen (a new version by Mark O’Rowe) – Review by Frank L.

Until Saturday, 16 May 2015

Hedda Gabler (Catherine Walker) returns to her hometown and a spacious new house following a six months honeymoon with Jorge Tesman (Peter Gaynor). She shares little common ground with her academic husband, who she seems bored with despite their recent vows. That Ibsen chose to name the play after his heroine’s maiden name gives a strong marker that Hedda was ill at ease with her new role as a wife and in particular as the wife of Jorge.

The set designed by Paul O’Mahony is spacious with ample room in which the characters can move. It has a sofa, a stove and writing bureau all in the style of the end of the nineteenth century but there are no walls, only a double doorway and French windows. The effect is of a house of some considerable size and refined taste. The feeling of understated opulence is further underlined by Peter O’Brien’s sveltely elegant costumes. Visually this production gladdens the eye.

Catherine Walker moves with fidgety calmness which give the impression that the house for all its spaciousness confines her in some unspecified way. In her affluent childhood she was not used to being financially restricted. She is not concerned that her husband is already financially stretched in acquiring the expansive home which she finds irksome. Her husband’s Aunt Julle (Jane Brennan), who is a doting visitor, characterises the smallness of the domestic world which now surrounds Hedda. Her two male friends Ejlert Luvborg (Keith McErlean) , her husband’s academic rival with a shady alcoholic past, and Judge Brack (Declan Conlon) provide insights into other worlds with which she wants to dally. In reality she knows far better what she does not want than what she does. Thea (Kate Stanley Brennan), who has collaborated with Ejlert academically, may represent the sort of independent woman to whom Hedda aspires.

Annabelle Comyn with Mark O’Rowe have created a considered Hedda Gabler with a cosmopolitan chicness. It is a sophisticated world, without hysterics but it still confines Hedda. The world of Hedda Gabler continues to fascinate a century after its creation.

Credits

Jane Brennan – Aunt Julle
Dee Burke – Supernumerary Maid
Declan Conlon – Judge Brack
Peter Gaynor – Jorge Tesman
Keith McErlean – Ejlert Lovborg
Deirdre Molloy – Berte
Kate Stanley Brennan – Thea Elvsted
Catherine Walker – Hedda Gabler

Mark O’Rowe – Writer
Annabelle Comyn – Director
Paul O’Mahony – Set Design
Peter O’Brien – Costume Design
Chahine Yavroyan – Lighting Design
Philip Stewart – Music and Sound Design
Sue Mythen – Movement Director
Hugh O’Conor – AV Design

Hedda Gabler

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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