By Kat Pickering
Writer for What’s On Hub
The National Theatre has come back to Hull this week after the recent visit of Jane Eyre. They’re performing a new version of Hedda Gabler at Hull New Theatre and I had the opportunity to get to the opening night of this 19th century drama (written by Henrik Ibsen). Only it was a new version with twists, turns and a bit of humour – I loved it! Here’s why you should head over to Hull New Theatre this week while it’s here…
In this new version by Patrick Marber, Hedda has returned from a six month honeymoon with her boisterous, academic husband, Tesman who lacks the brilliance to be truly successful.
When she is on her own, her despair is palpable. She feels trapped in a room with a large window and the blinding light that emanates from it.
She is the proud, beautiful daughter of the dead, aristocratic general and was loved and wanted by everyone. She married because she was tired of her chaotic life. It was time to settle but she is now trapped. The plot follows Hedda as she manipulates Lovborg, the writer, partly because he is an academic threat to her husband but mostly because she is jealous of the influence her old school friend, Mrs Elvsted has on his life.
What is most interesting about this production is the setting. It takes place in one room in which there is a minimal amount of furnishing and, nothing in the way of decoration. There is a large window which provides the light and the mood to most of the scenes. The entire stage is encased in these four walls. There is no way in or out as even the cast members enter through the auditorium. This, of course, is purposely done to better give the audience a sense of oppression. Hedda cannot escape those four walls and, neither can you.
The music pulsates throughout, making you feel tense and uneasy but also keeping you stimulated and, eagerly awaiting every moment of the plot.
Hedda Gabler was everything and nothing like I had expected it to be in that, I was looking forward to drama at its best and, was not disappointed. But I was delightfully surprised with the witty humour that makes this an extraordinary play that should not be missed.
Lizzy Watts is a wickedly funny Hedda who is able to portray the selfish, often rude, immature, desperate and bored character beautifully.
The ensemble cast were just as brilliant in their portrayals and delightful to watch.
It has taken 18 months and close to £16 million but the refurbishments to Hull New Theatre are stunning. I even got to take a private tour prior to show-time and it was easy to sense the excitement surrounding the improvements.
The theatre is now modern and elegant. It boasts a new fly tower used for scenery, lighting and stage effects. It seats a larger audience, has a new cafe/restaurant, two new bars and an extra space to hire for corporate or private functions and events. More importantly the theatre is now extensive enough to attract bigger, more enterprising productions which is a very exciting prospect for the City of Culture.
The staff were really warm, friendly and largely contributed to the overall enjoyment of the evening. I can’t recommend it enough – the whole experience of seeing a great production like this at Hull New Theatre is now an incredible evening out with a friend or partner. Go and see it while you can.
You can pick up your tickets from the box office at Hull New Theatre and City Hall, or online at hulltheatres.co.uk. You can also call on 01482 300 306.