Theatre review: Hedda Gabler
Nicola Daley shines as Hedda in the Lyceum’s new production of the Ibsen classic
The landscape of female experience portrayed by Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler may have changed in the century and a quarter since it was written, but in this tale of a woman bound by the expectations of men there’s still much that resonates on a broader human level, as well as a feminist one. Director Amanda Gaughan’s take on Richard Eyre’s adaptation brings home the claustrophobia of a woman attempting to gain some agency in her life from the confines of her sitting room with constricting tension, as Jean Chan’s moving set plays with a depth of field effect and Claire McKenzie’s eerie score drives on much of the second act.
Nicola Daley’s portrayal of Hedda (her married name is Tesman, but does the fact of her marriage change her character?) is fittingly ageless, her youthful vivaciousness suppressed by her circumstances, even as she envies young interloper Thea Elvsted (Jade Williams). Lewis Hart is puppy dog besotted as the scientist husband whom she doesn’t love, Jack Tarlton at once suave and seedy as her dangerous admirer Eilert Loevborg, and Benny Young’s Judge Brack a seeming friend, despite his professed desire for an affair. Like a 19th century Betty Draper, Hedda is both player and pawn in the games of men, and ultimately no-one’s fool but her own.
Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 11 Apr.