Review: Hedda Gabler at The Groundlings in Portsmouth

Hedda Gabler
Hedda Gabler
Richard Digance

A close encounter puts Richard’s career back on the musical path

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Ibsen’s classic drama, rarely given locally, received an outing from the adult students of Groundlings’ drama-school.

A bit of a mixed-bag, this one, with a lot of the subtlety of Ibsen’s characterisation being lost. Many of the European classics, but particularly Ibsen and Chekhov, suffer from some very clunky translations and this certainly applies here.

The language has an odd formality, lacking a sense of reality and in the mouths of inexperienced actors does not always sit comfortably.

That said, there was good stuff happening, particularly from Lawrence Barrett, Maddie Stoneman and Jim Wringe as Lovborg, Mrs Elvsted and Judge Brack respectively.

As Tesman, Jon Abbot conveys the weakness of the man nicely but the relationship between Tesman and the manipulative Hedda doesn’t ring true, here.

Kirsty Malloy needs to find levels within Hedda. Her rich voice varies little in pace and pitch and her Hedda’s overriding mental state seems to be boredom – but there is so much more to Hedda than that.

The script itself gives little explanation for Hedda and Tesman’s marriage and Abbot and Malloy’s performances give no additional indication as to why the characters married.

A little more thought would have sharpened up that central relationship and given more credibility to the situation.