Oct. 8, 2012
Drama and suspense is common, but a convincing performance of insanity on stage is not. The UCCS stage production of “Hedda Gabler” brings all three.
“Hedda Gabler” was first published in 1890 by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Although “Hedda Gabler” is set around the same time, the campus production directed by Christian O’Shaughnessy doesn’t have a set time period.
The play opens with a discussion about Hedda Gabler (Carmen Vreeman) and her recent honeymoon with husband George Tesman (Dana Kjeldsen). Hedda and George enter, and throughout the play, the audience learns that Hedda is unhappy as George’s wife.
Later in the play, an old friend of George’s and old flame of Hedda’s, Ejlert Luvborg, returns to town, and Hedda causes trouble between Luvborg and Mrs. Thea Elvsted, his current romantic interest.
There are many layers to Hedda Gabler. Although she is sadistic, cruel, vicious, jealous, condescending and self-centered – and those are only some of her negative qualities – Hedda also has a longing for a life she feels she can never have and is used to a different kind of lifestyle than George has been able to provide.
Hedda tells Thea, “If only you knew how poor I really am,” and, “For once in my life, I’d like to have power over someone’s destiny.” When she’s asked why she married George, Hedda says that her time was up and George wanted her so.
From this, Hedda shows she cares a great deal about propriety, and although she is manipulative and conniving, she is also a woman who is simply resigned to her fate in life. She does not love George, but she will not cheat on him, either.
Vreeman gives a stunning performance as Hedda. In one scene, Hedda gleefully burns a book that Thea and Lovborg had poured their souls into.
While burning the pages, Hedda laughs and exclaims that she is burning Thea’s child. Hedda sounded so sadistic that one would think she is, in fact, burning a child.
“Hedda Gabler” is primarily a serious play, but there are some funny and unexpected moments as well, like when George tells Hedda not to expect him back from a party early, and Hedda tells him to stay out as long as he would like.
The scene is filled with dramatic irony – George thinks that Hedda wishes him a good time while the audience knows she doesn’t want him around.
Although I wasn’t fond of Hedda’s character, Vreeman does a wonderful job of showing all of her character’s layers. The director and the entire cast must be commended for effectively enticing the audience.