Following it’s sold out run at the National Theatre London the critically acclaimed masterpiece that is Hedda Gabler has made it’s way to Plymouth to kick start the shows much anticipated national tour.
The show has undergone a bold makeover in this modern version of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play thanks to the outstanding new vision of Olivier award winning playwright Patrick Marber.
Often regarded as the female Hamlet and one of the greatest dramatic parts in theatre it’s safe to say that Hedda Gabler pulls no punches when it comes to impressing.
This modern version boasts an ultra-clever set design that creates a sense of realism, there’s an immense attention to detail which allows you to become more immersed with your surroundings.
The set is fully enclosed, there are no doors on the stage, no entrances or exits…well, minus an expertly concealed emergency door: safety first! The lack of doors and entrances is unusual when it comes to set design but in this case it is done for very good reason. It visually displays the feeling that there is no way in or out and thus a sense of entrapment for both the audience and the title character. Ultimately it acts as a reflection of Hedda’s own feelings throughout the play.
The set is designed to look like a brand new apartment. No fittings, no fixtures not even any paint on the walls. Simply bare and basic. Realism is the key with this set, everything is designed to feel real, so much so that when in London the set was made using real concrete floors and real plasterboard walls. Of course this is not practical for touring, but the set still boasts some real features such as the patio window and of course the fire.
For the tour the fire comes out of a secret hatch hidden within the walls. The fire itself, whilst very impressive, is also incredibly simple. It’s controlled by the lighting engineer and works much in the same way as your central heating at home! It’s the simple notion of pressing buttons and turning leavers and yet it produces something so spectacular. In fact we were even treated to a small sneak preview which has left me VERY excited to see it in all it’s glory during the actual show!
Another interesting feature was the lighting, most productions use a lot of lighting to obtain their desired effect however this play focuses on a much more naturalistic lighting style with the lighting coming through the patio window. The colours of the lighting are interchanged to create a sense of time and the blinds are used to soften the lighting when needed. It’s all so clever and yet so simple! With all the technology we have today you’d assume the process of creating something so spectacular would be a lot more complicated but as the resident tech expert Brain explained to us “we have clever people instead of clever things” and clearly that’s key to success because the show has received rave reviews all around and I for one can’t wait to see it for myself!