After the Broadway premiere of Hedda Gabler in 1902, one reviewer wrote of its extraordinary heroine: ‘Degenerate, selfish, morbid, cruel, bitter, jealous, something of a visionary, something of a lunatic.’ But Hedda is neither logical nor insane in the old sense of being random and unaccountable. Her motives have a secret, personal logic of their own.
Hedda Gabler is trapped inside a conventional life: she married the scholar Tesman. But money is short, Tesman’s old rival Ejlert Lövborg has turned up again and he is now involved with Hedda’s school friend Mrs Thea Elvsted. He has written a bestseller in Tesman’s field of study, causing concern and competition for the Tesmans.
Hedda’s volcanic boredom is reaching its limits. She becomes wilfully and recklessly destructive and when the conniving Judge Brack gathers fuel for blackmail a dangerous and deadly sequence of events are set in motion.
Belvoir’s new Resident Director Adena Jacobs has an uncanny ability to uncover the torrents of instinct that run beneath the routines of modern living. Her work is signified by a stillness that carries meaning beyond words and operates on a symbolic level that can be deeply affecting.
Hedda is a character squeezing out of herself and her environment, unable to be pinned down,” says Jacobs. “Casting Ash Flanders in the title role of Hedda is a thrilling provocation.”
“For me it adds to the mystery and ambiguity already present in Ibsen’s play. It frames the crisis of Hedda Gabler as a one of identity, and the problems of difference, rather than solely one woman’s drama.”
Ash Flanders (Little Mercy, Sydney Theatre Company) is a man who has made an artform out of playing tragic heroines. He is joined by Lynette Curran (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Marcus Graham (Angels in America), Anna Houston (Jump for Jordan Griffin Theatre Company), Oscar Redding (Forget Me Not) and Tim Walter (Perplex Sydney Theatre Company). Their Hedda Gabler will be a primal close-up of Ibsen’s electrifying marriage tragedy.
Belvoir Street Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Season continues to 3 August 2014
Bookings: (02) 9699 3444 or online at: www.belvoir.com.au
For more information, visit: www.belvoir.com.au for details.
Image: Ash Flanders in Hedda Gabler – photo by Gary Heery