Fear of being bored.Hedda Gabbler. Royal Theatre, Brighton May 2010. Director Adrian Noble.

This was my first visit to this theatre in the well loved seaside city of Brighton. Dilapidated Regency splendour sits with the ever-so-slightly-faded opulence of the Theatre Royal.

Hedda Gabbler is one of those plays – a sort of theatrical Everest and with the distinctive feature of having a woman as the protagonist. Hedda is a confusing woman – tough but fragile with a low boredom threshold and a horror of domesticity. Surrounded by adoring men, fascinated by her vibrancy (ah, a problem faced by us all!) Hedda is an actress in many ways. Performing to those around her and somehow convincing them all.

A strong company, Tim McInnery played Judge Brack with creepy lecherousness whilst Robert Glennister was believable as the duped husband.

In this production Hedda was played by the willowy and beautiful Rosamund Pike. Tall, striking and graceful in a classical Hollywood kind of way, she was an interesting and powerful Hedda. Cruel to her female friends, petty and jealous and at other times determined, strong, Cruel. Pike brought a diamante quality to the role – sparkling and hard. It was hard to believe her husband actually thought she loved him and yet she made him believe her. Her fear and disgust of the middle class domesticity to which she succumbs were shown powerfully, perhaps most when she beat her own abdomen after realizing she is carrying her unloved-husband’s child. Yet despite this the final moment when she picks up the pistols and the shot rings out, there were still gasps from the audience.

Ibsen’s play has clearly not lost its power to shock.


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