Belvoir draws out the mystery in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler
Decadent and degenerate, destructive and dangerous, Adena Jacobs’ Hedda Gabler delivers Ibsen for a modern audience.
It’s over a hundred years since Henrick Ibsen introduced his classic anti-heroine Hedda Gabler to audiences, and actresses have been vying to play her ever since. This month Belvoir St Theatre delivers a new version of Ibsen’s tale of lunacy and morality, bitterness and jealousy, dreams lost and found, with resident wunderkind Adena Jacobs at the helm.
For Jacobs, the opportunity to deliver her version of Hedda was too great to pass up. “For me there is something incredibly contemporary about Hedda Gabler – even in Ibsen’s day it was ahead of its time,” she told SX.
Describing Hedda as being in a state of alienation, Jacobs said it is Hedda’s inability to forge a connection that she found so compelling. It is this sense of alienation she believed would resonate for a modern audience.
[Photo] Adena Jacobs
“The state of being that the title character is in, feels to me one of totally contemporary alienation and numbness, and an inability to be in the world in a real, connected sense. Of course she experiences these huge things, but there’s an inability to connect, or a dislocation – and that speaks to our contemporary state of being.”
Finding the perfect actor to embody Hedda is never an easy feat and Jacobs has cast her net from a very different gene pool, serving up Sister’s Grimm member Ash Flanders as the titular character. And why not? Flanders has made a career out of playing tragic heroines.
Hedda is an unconventional woman trapped in the confines of a conventional marriage. When her boredom reaches its limits she becomes recklessly destructive. Flanders is perfect casting for the role.
“Hedda is a character squeezing out of herself and her environment, unable to be pinned down” Jacobs said. “Casting Ash in the title role of Hedda is a thrilling provocation. For me it adds to the mystery and ambiguity already present in Ibsen’s play. It frames the crisis of Hedda Gabler as a one of identity, and the problems of difference, rather than solely one woman’s drama.”
When all is said and done, Jacob hopes the audience will connect with the play in an intuitive way. If she’s done her job well, she hopes they exit the theatre with a sense of trepidation.
“I hope they leave with some sort of dread! Existential dread.”
[Top image] Ash Flanders in the title role of Hedda Gabler. Photo: Supplied
Hedda Gabler opens on June 28 and plays until August 3 at Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills. Go to Belvoir.com.au