(Dominic Maxwell's article appeared in the Times of London, March 6, 2010.)
Hedda Gabler at the Theatre Royal, Bath
On the posters, Rosamund Pike is hoisting two hefty antique pistols on either side of her blown-back blonde hair. This is a Hedda Gabler, you think, who’s going to be sexy, vicious, capricious. A real wicked lady.
On stage, though, Adrian Noble’s production gives us something infinitely more interesting. This is a Hedda Gabler that’s performed at a clip, stripped of melodramatic greatness, ponderousness or histrionics. Hedda divides her time between acting in haste and repenting at leisure, but Pike makes us see that her bad behaviour stems from an absence of passion rather than a surfeit of it. She gives us a modern woman drowning in ironies in a marriage of inconvenience. “Here comes the Professor!” she announces, stressing the second syllable of the word, as her bookish husband, Tesman, arrives. Her whole stance is of someone who doesn’t want to be here. Pike quietly suggests that Hedda’s ice-maiden front conceals a horrible fear that front is all there is.
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