Above: Bridie Carter, Danielle Cormack and Jason Klarwein. Below: Danielle Cormack and Joss McWilliam. Bottom: Jimi Bani. More photos follow the review.
A reimagining of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler
By Melissa Bubnic
Directed by Paige Rattray
Bille Brown Theatre
78 Montague Road
Season: November 10-December 8: Duration 100 minutes without interval. Bookings: 1800 356 528 or www.queenslandtheatre.com.au
Go ahead punk, make her day! You don’t mess with this gun-toting lady. Melissa Bubnic’s Hedda Gabler is no victim. She’s a
scheming ruthless woman from upper middle class who marries for money into a drug dealing dynasty on the Gold Coast and moves into pure Boganville.
It’s a 100 minutes of non-stop action that is sometimes as violent as a Sopranos episode and as funny as Upper Middle Bogan at others and filled with weird and wonderful characters. It has an explosion of the F word and even a C word thrown in, all spoken as naturally as the characters breathe; they smoke, knock back vodka like water, sniff cocaine; domestic violence makes an entrance and there are copious amounts of blood and vomit.
All this in a vast, stark white poolside setting
Hedda and husband George Tesman have just moved into the huge mansion on the sea front which has been furnished, hideously according the Hedda, by George’s Aunt Julia, a gangster matriarch, who is particularly proud of the $3,000 crystal chandelier. It’s taste versus money.
The elegant Andrea Moor was unrecognisable as the brassy, ocker Julie and her scenes with Helen O’Leary as jack of all trades Berta, were some of the funniest in the show.
This is a play based loosely on Ibsen’s 19th century classic, but cleverly brought up to date with the switch to the Gold Coast, but it is still true to Ibsen’s premise: upper class versus lower class, women versus men.
Selling methamphetamine – ice – is the profitable Tesman business and all is well until Ejlert Lovborg, a former lover of Hedda and a high up member of the “family” comes out of jail and George fears he will be ousted from his own position. Hedda just wants him out of the way.
Danielle Cormack is Hedda, and is brilliant and a very generous actor. She worked perfectly with every member of the cast, particularly on one-on-one scenes.
Hedda is struggling to convince George and Julia to go legit, buy into government jobs, aided by the Councillor Brack, a sleazy wannabe lover and a corrupt official. This was another smooth and convincing role played by Joss McWilliam. It was fascinating to see Hedda’s wiles in her counter attacks.
Matching her scene for scene was Jason Klarwein as George, the insecure tough guy, who, ruled by Aunt Julia tried to gain his own dignity by dominating Hedda. There was magic in their scenes.
As there were many laughs there was also tragedy and heartbreak with the besotted Thea, who was played with heart-rending sadness by Bridie Carter and the subject of her passion, the newly released jailbird Ejlert played by big Jimi Bani. Again his was a powerful performance.
If ever there was a romance doomed to tragedy it was that one.
It is a play that makes you laugh, cry and want to scream with anger and frustration at times.
It’s powerful piece of work, powerfully played by a magnificent cast.
After party photos b y Deanne Scott.
The cast, crew and creatives ready to party.
Bridie Carter, Andrea Moor and Danielle Cormack
Eric Scott with Jason Klarwein