02 September 2008

Hedda, adapted by Lucy Kirwood based on the Ibsen

Julia Tesman - Cath Whitefield
George Tesman - Tom Mison
Hedda Gabler - Cara Horgan
Thea Eldridge - Alice Patten
Toby Brack - Christopher Obi
Eli Longford - Adrian Bower

Directed by Carrie Cracknell
Designed by Holly Waddington

Seen at the sweet little Gate Theatre in Notting Hill with as diverse an audience as you could wish to find

If you come to this and banish all expectations of plot paralleling you'll come away from a fairly solid contemporary drama, with a few flaws but fairly well executed. If you have a vague notion of the original structure and salient plot points and interactions you'd have fun comparing. I wonder how Ibsen scholars would feel.

Lines were tripped and there were some minor inconsistencies with the plot but this sweet young cast and director made a very enjoyable evening and had the strength to stay behind and chat to us all afterwards. I might note that I have never seen such a high percentage of audience stay behind for a Q & A before and some of them had clearly not been aware that it was happening until the announcement. It was clear that this was an intense collaboration between Ms Kirkwood and Ms Cracknell so I can only presume the slight plot faults were the result of forgotten or ill-delivered lines.

One of these days I am going to see Mr Bower clean shaven, tidied hair and in a smart suit. I'll probably loathe him in it! He is so wonderfully comfortable with himself that it makes watching him very easy. I was also very impressed with the pitch of Christopher Obi's performance. I don't know why he stood out because I must say that everyone seemed to really understand the small space they were in and played it very well.

Hedda's evening dress was stunning in it's simplicity and I wouldn't normally even bother to comment. It had wonderful lines and looked stunning on Cara.

So far as this contemporary rendition is concerned, I thought it stayed just the right side of smug in it's parallels and apart from a couple of clunks, it worked well. For the sake of the comfort of these old bones, I would like to have seen it 15 minutes shorter and I had a strong sense of several others in the audience reaching breaking point at about the same time as me. I don't mind plays without intervals but 90 minutes is about my limit.