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Hedda Gabler

Published Friday 18 March 2005 at 16:50 by Peter Hepple

There is a photograph on the cover of the Almeida programme showing Hedda Gabler standing in a sunlit window, which depicts exactly what Richard Eyre is trying to convey in his new version of the Ibsen classic.

This Hedda is swamped by sunshine rather more than by Nordic gloom. But it is plainly not enough for a young woman whose capacity for boredom clearly outweighs the presence of a dull but devoted husband, an incipient lover, an elegant home and a comfortable lifestyle.

The looming portrait of her father, the general, gives a clue to her personality and flashing moods and what is basically a fear of the future and life itself, including sex and friendship with other women.

Richard Eyre’s achievement, and it is no mean feat, is to make the play surprisingly humorous at times and he directs it at exactly the right pace.

In addition, he has found exactly the right actress for Hedda in Eve Best, for some years regarded as promising but now on the threshold of greatness. This is a performance which digs deep into the character yet still retains a light touch. The suicide is inevitable yet does not seem a great tragedy, as though she knows that life in the house and small town may be happier without her presence.

But it is a strong company all round, with Benedict Cumberbatch impressing as the studious Tesman, Lisa Dillon as Thea, who will make him a much more suitable wife than Hedda and Iain Glen as the sly, scheming and potentially corruptible Judge Brack.

Jamie Sives is also notable as the demented Loevborg and one cannot overlook the contributions of Rob Howell (design) and Peter Mumford (lighting).

Production information

Almeida, London, March 16-April 30

Henrik Ibsen, new version by Richard Eyre
Richard Eyre
Almeida Theatre
Cast includes:
Eve Best, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lisa Dillon, Iain Glen
Running time:
2hrs 20mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014