Hedda Gabler TicketsNow Closed
What's it all about?
Olivier Award-winner Sheridan Smith stars in the title role of Brian Friel's outstanding new adaptation of Ibsen's masterpiece, Hedda Gabler.
The talented, versatile and wildly popular actress has confessed to nerves about stepping out of her comfort zone to play Hedda, one of the great classical roles for actresses.
But the Old Vic's Artistic Director (and a half-decent actor himself, we hear) Kevin Spacey has no such doubt.
"Sheridan is a wonderful actress who has rightly received acclaim for her recent work," he says. "I am sure audiences will be intrigued to see her tackle this role."
The play tells the story of aristocrat's daughter Hedda Gabler, who marries a man she doesn’t love, whose rivalry with another man compels Hedda to make life-or-death decisions.
This production, described by Spacey as the highlight of the Old Vic's autumn / winter season, is directed by Anna Mackmin. Mackmin's previous successes include the acclaimed Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship at the NT and Ibsen's Ghosts at the Gate Theatre. The producer is Michael Grandage.
What's the story?
Hedda Gabler is the well-known daughter of a general. She marries would-be academic and author George Tesman out of desperation but finds their life together unbearably dull.
Hedda's old friend Thea comes to visit and tells Hedda that their hard-living mutual acquaintance Eilert Lövborg has cleaned up his act and written a manuscript of a history book that has been critically accliamed by academia. Hedda reads it and discovers in it all the imagination and spirit she yearns for in George.
Lövborg comes to call, and Hedda finds herself jealous of Thea's influence over him. Lövborg loses his manuscript at a party. When George returns home with it Hedda burns the book in a jealous rage, and a lethal chain of events is set in motion.
Who's in it?
Olivier Award-winner Sheridan Smith stars in the title role of this major new production alongside Buffy Davis, Anne Reid, Adrian Scarborough and Fenella Woolgar.
Smith first came to the public’s attention via standout performances in TV comedies Gavin & Stacey and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.
She received an Olivier Award nomination in 2008 for her work in Little Shop of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory and its subsequent transfers to the Duke of York’s Theatre and the New Ambassadors Theatre.
Smith finally bagged a Best Actress Olivier, among several other awards, for her performance as Elle Woods in the West End production of Legally Blonde: the Musical.
Her other stage credits include Tinderbox: a Revenge Comedy at the Bush Theatre, Shepherd's Bush and Trevor Nunn's production of Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Who is Hedda Gabler suitable for?
It's a cannily pitched production that will appeal equally if you're among Sheridan Smith's many fans or you're simply a lover of classic theatre who wishes to see a dynamic, vital new presentation of one of the late 19th century's greatest and most enduring plays.
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Did You Know?
Ibsen's psychologically complex characterisation of Hedda Gabler was a very modern stroke in 1890, when he wrote the play.
Her seemingly illogical, neurotic behaviour was a step forward from the more apparently rational behaviour of the bulk of fictional characters that preceded her, and is thought to reflect the influence of Freud, whose ideas were first becoming widespread at that time.
As a result, the character of Hedda still feels utterly fresh and believable today. Perhaps that's why so many famous leading actresses have continued to gravitate toward the role.
Among the legendary leading ladies who have essayed the part in the last 100 years or so are Eleonora Duse, Alla Nazimova, Ingrid Bergman, Janet Suzman, Diana Rigg, Isabelle Huppert, Kate Mulgrew, Kelly McGillis, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Annette Bening, Amanda Donohoe, Judy Davis, Emmanuelle Seigner, Harriet Walter, Rosamund Pike and Cate Blanchett.
In 2001 the play was staged at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater starring Martha Plimpton, currently winning acclaim in TV's Raising Hope. Plimpton is credited with bringing renewed modern interest to the play in the USA.