Sunday, 9 April 2017

Hedda Gabler, Hair Puller, Mean Girl


I watched on youtube Hedda Gabler with Ingrid Bergman, Ralph Richardson and Michael Redgrave. Bergman acted with high Strindbergian, Nordic devil woman twitching. Richardson as Judge Brack was a fine insinuating seducer,Redgrave a perfect bemused scholar, and Trevor Howard a fair Lovborg. I also looked at briefly Janet Suzman (B.B.C. play)who adopts a malign sweetness.


“Her hair is not particularly abundant” says Ibsen in his stage directions. Of Mrs. Elvsted he directs "Her hair is remarkably light, almost flaxen, and unusually abundant and wavy”.

She is remembered by Hedda as that girl with the irritating hair. Mrs. Elvsted also has a memory:

MRS. ELVSTED.
Yes, but you were in the class above me. Oh, how dreadfully afraid of you I was then!
HEDDA.
Afraid of me?
MRS. ELVSTED.
Yes, dreadfully. For when we met on the stairs you used always to pull my hair.
HEDDA.
Did I, really?
MRS. ELVSTED.
Yes, and once you said you would burn it off my head.

The startling thing is that the timid Mrs.Elvsted has left her husband, an up country official to be the muse and sponsor of the alcoholic genius Lovborg while Hedda a maenad manque is terrified of scandal.

LOVBORG.
[Clenches his hands.] Oh, why did you not carry out your threat? Why did you not shoot me down?
HEDDA.
Because I have such a dread of scandal.
LOVBORG.
Yes, Hedda, you are a coward at heart.
HEDDA.
A terrible coward. [Changing her tone.] But it was a lucky thing for you. And now you have found ample consolation at the Elvsteds'.
LOVBORG.
I know what Thea has confided to you.
As a woman without much of an inner life she fills the void with the confidences of others, Lovborg’s and Elvsted’s. Knowledge is power and that is what she wants but somehow her plans go awry and Brack is too cunning for her. Too cunning for himself in fact for instead of playing his trump he ought to have held back and Hedda would out of boredom agreed to the triangular set up. Because she’s worth it.







No comments: