Why is it perceived that theatre produced in the regions cannot scale to the heights of that in London theatres? When director Laurie Sansom is at the helm and the production is made in Northampton by the Royal & Derngate, the result is just as edge of the seat or as sophisticated as anything around, including in London.
Emma Hamilton (Hedda Gabler), Matti Houghton (Thea Elvsted) and Lex Shrapnel (Ejlert Lovborg) in Hedda Gabler at Hedda Gabler Royal, Northampton Photo: Robert Day
The latest Royal & Derngate production, Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler under the direction of Laurie Sansom, features Andrew Upton’s adaptation, only previously seen on Broadway. It, yet again, proves Northampton can produce the very best.
Emma Hamiliton as Hedda Gabler stimulates every reaction imaginable, in her attempt to control, influence and in the end destroy everyone and everything around her.
Jack Hawkins as her new husband Jorgen Tesman, is both irritating and seemingly devoid of human emotion.
Jay Villiers as Judge Brack comes over almost brash in his directness while, in striking contrast, Matti Houghton delightfully portrays the timid Thea Elvsted.
The extremes of success and disaster belong to the human rollercoaster of Ejlert Lovborg brilliantly played by Lex Shrapnel.
Sue Wallace as Aunt Julle brings the only warmth of the whole production and Janice McKenzie some desperately needed light relief as Berte the maid.
Without doubt, Ibsen and Sansom excel at revealing raw human emotions, with performances from this group of actors that make the audience feel uncomfortable and ill at ease. Ruth Sutcliffe’s virtually monotone set puts everything in stark relief.
A truly stunningly, stimulating production.