Hedding in the Wrong Direction
Think I just mentioned Hedda Gabler. Well, a number of editorial points occurred to me while watching the live transmission from the National Theatre. You see, it’s hard to switch off the editorial function if you’ve been at it as long as I have. Can be a bit of an impediment when trying to enjoy a play. Didn’t actually enjoy this adaptation much, but Ruth Wilson was great.
Hedda was updated to a loft apartment in Any City 2017 by Patrick Marber. So we’re in 2017 with clever fridges hidden in the wall, fancy blinds and video entry phones. The apartment is a white minimalist cube.
But the manuscript Hedda burns is written in longhand, there are no mobile phones (letters are hand-delivered), impoverished Hedda has a maid and so does Aunt Julie, Mrs Elvsted was a governess, and Hedda’s piano is a battered ancient wreck. All very Norway 1890. Just what the director was presumably trying to avoid. There’s probably a perfectly good artistic escape clause for all this and an explanation for Hedda having a fine pair of pistols which turn out to be very contemporary handguns.
Most of the plot is implausible when translated to contemporary life, of course, but this is a much bigger question, and I’m only a book editor not a theatre critic. Theatre’s great, especially when it makes you a bit cross.
Gabling on a Little More