Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Hedda Gabler @ Lyceum

The Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh presents
Hedda GablerBy Henrik Ibsen
In a new version by Richard Eyre
Directed by Amanda Gaughan
20 March – 11 April 2015

“For once in my life I want to control a man’s fate”

With a distinguished father, a reputable husband, and a respectable home Hedda’s life is beyond reproach, anything else would be scandalous. For excitement she turns to the lives of others; enchanting and beguiling them, bending them to her will, determined to be a woman of consequence, whatever the consequences.

Well, that sounds like it is going to end well, doesn't it?

Recently, in an exclusive interview with The List, artistic director of the Lyceum, Mark Thomson made the point that he did not think that the Lyceum had a 'house style.' I disagree: it sits somewhere between the full-on director's theatre of, say, Dominic Hill at The Citizens, and the respectful renderings of Firebrand, which pay close attention to the script (sometimes to the production's advantage, as with Iron or White Rose). 

They also tend towards scripts - not seeing much devised art in the programme - that are reasonably established.

Ibsen's classic drama of passion and desperation follows a dangerously irresistible woman as she rushes headlong towards a disaster that will embrace all those who have fallen fatally under her spell.

The show will be directed by Lyceum Associate Artist Amanda Gaughan. Set and costume design is by Jean Chan with lighting design from Simon Wilkinson and music and sound design by composer Claire McKenzie. Movement Direction is provided by EJ Boyle.

The cast are Nicola Daley as Hedda Gabler, Sally Edwards as Julia Tesman, Lewis Hart as George Tesman, Vari Sylvester as Berthe, Jack Tarlton as Eilbert Loevborg, Jade Williams as Thea Elvsted and Benny Young as Judge Brack.

Director Amanda Gaughan says “I am thrilled to be directing Hedda Gabler as my first show as an Associate Artist with The Lyceum. Hedda is considered to be one of the greatest female roles in theatre as she attempts to exert control and influence in a male dominated world which ultimately leads to the destruction of everyone and everything around her. 

Ibsen’s work continues to stand the test of the time as he strived to ‘depict human beings, human emotions, and human destinies, upon groundwork of certain of the social conditions and principles of the present day’ (Ibsen letter). Richard Eyre has written a remarkable adaptation of Hedda Gabler with the language being both contemporary and viscerally bold but staying true to both Ibsen’s intentions whilst creating a fully imaginative and relevant discourse for our contemporary audience. 

Within Hedda Gabler we have real people who exist within a domestic situation and over the course of the 36 hours of the play struggle to deal with life and death situations, and how to conform to the societal constructs of being a successful and reputable ‘Man’ or ‘Woman'.

Our characters are in conflict with maintaining these perceived societal ideals: where men can take direct and public action whereas women were less and to remain behind the scenes. I think it is highly interesting to look at how far we have moved forward in equality and what aspects we still have to address. I am genuinely delighted with the discussions, ideas and the strength of acting we are exploring and playing with in rehearsals.”

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