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.

editorial confusionBut 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

Just in case you think I don’t like modern adaptations… not so. Saw Hamlet at the Almeida last week. Very contemporary with the ghost on CCTV! And loved it. Andrew Scott was riveting.


By |March 10th, 2017|Categories: Latest News|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on PLAYS – SOME EDITORIAL NOTES

About the Author:

Richard is a director of Chapterhouse. His lifelong love of books led him from the law to publishing. His favourite animal is the rhinoceros and his favourite modern play is Jerusalem. Strangely, perhaps, he is fanatical about football and modern novels.