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Hedda Gabler at Milton Kenes Theatre

Published by: Alison Smith on 5th Mar 2018 | View all blogs by Alison Smith


Hedda Gabler at Milton Keynes Theatre

 Hedda Gabler is a timeless, distressing portrayal of a self-centred, purposeless woman.  Although the play was written by Ibsen in late 19th century  such female ‘victims’ still exist in the 21st century -  women  whose lives are desolate – echoed perfectly  in Jan Versweyveld’s design of the Tesman’s empty, cold, grey apartment, the only colour the flowers scattered by the neurotic Hedda.

 The other female roles in the play  - the New Women in the 1890s– Mrs Elvsted and Juliana, Telsman’s aunt, have found  their roles in society – the former in writing, the latter in caring; but Hedda can find no justification to her life. She married to avoid being alone and to have a comfortable existence, but she finds herself isolated , with a husband  who is not living up to her societal expectations, and she is pregnant. None of this matches the vision she had of her life.

 The other men in Hedda’s life, Brack and Lovborg, were once her lovers; Lovborg still feels affection for Hedda; Brack, a brute, abuses her. Does Hedda bring this on herself? To some extent she does. She is cruel, manipulative and dishonest .Even  the fact that she is beautiful can in no way justify her treatment of others – her disdain towards her academic husband, her contempt towards Mrs Elvsted and her manipulation of Lovborg, leading to his death. But the men are also controlling – physically as well as mentally – they feel they can caress her at their whim, and, in the case of Brack, violently .

Lizzy Watts gives an excellent portrayal of Hedda; angular, cold, scantily dressed in a dressing gown and silk shift – perhaps too depressed to dress. Tesman  - why doesn’t Hedda take his name? – is acted by Abhin Galeya. He gives a very rounded performance and clearly delineates Tesman’s obsessive yet caring and humane nature, the antithesis of his wife’s character.

One modern touch was Joni Mitchell’s Blue,  music which only Hedda heard. The words ‘crown and anchor me, or let me sail away’ echo her feelings as do the words by Cohen in Hallelujahe words  crown and anchor me or let me  dressing gown and silk shift - , ‘the only thing I’ve learned from love is how to shoot somebody’. Hedda was not alone in her despair.


Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen in a new version by Patrick Marber is at Milton Keynes Theatre until  1111111111111111111111111111Saturday 3rd March

0844 871 7652

Booking fee applies




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