Hedda Garbler

Date 1st May 2019
Society Stevenage Lytton Players
Venue Lytton Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Will Hextall

Report

Author: Vicki Avery

Hedda Garbler was Will Hextall’s directorial debut into the realms of amateur theatre. At the tender age of eighteen, he chose a play he was familiar with, having studied it at A level and one he felt passionate about.

The production moved along at a good pace, diction was good and the interaction between the characters in those quiet, almost static moments displayed far more emotion between them, when in actual fact they had no real interest in each other.

This is of course Hedda’s play – 

Sophie Harris’s Hedda had energy and nerves of steel. Married to the academic Tesman they are newly returned from honeymoon to the house which she always wanted, or so she said, and which he can barely afford. This portrayal had a brutal candour of the sadistic, but also a real humanity. And for all her viciousness and distancing, you could not  help but sympathise. Here we were witness to a masterclass in self control where “less is more” and this accomplished actress came to the fore. 

Alex Hancock was a dynamic presence as Tesman – weak willed in comparison to his new wife, but hardly the spent force which some have played him as. I liked the idea that when put under pressure, his eye line shifted and a subconscious aversion to positive eye contact made for an almost autistic element within the measure of the character. An interesting twist to the dynamics as the storyline unfolded. Again, another very strong performance from a very competent young actor. 

The visiting Mrs Elvsted, beautifully characterised by Courtney Hedger gave her character spine. Her portrayal was not one of a weak, down trodden woman, just one who, despite having the courage to leave her husband, is too socially conforming. The contrast between the two women was well drawn. Outstanding costuming and hair style. 

Joseph Poppy played the self-destructive, Eilert Loevborg convincingly. Vocal light and shade were excellent and although positioning on set was, at times, a little awkward, never the less, interaction throughout was clear and there was good use of pause.

Judge Brack was ably played by Andreas Georgiou. He gave a vile arrogance to the character which many women dislike and displayed all the characteristics of one who is bent on eating out the heart of society from the inside. The portrayal made me squirm, well done. 

Sheila Soothill gave a valuable performance as Juliana Tesman but unfortunately first night nerves got the better of her and dialogue was not always secure. Never the less command on the stage was good.

Kerry Baker as Bertha, the maid, gave us a representation of women’s role in the society from which Hedda is attempting to escape. I was delighted to witness how this member of the players has grown in self-assurance and delivered her lines with confidence. Well done.

The set seemed rather awkward at times and I felt the large trunk centre-stage was more of a hinderance than a help. Lighting changes could have been a lot smoother and an empty fireplace with no logs when specifically referred to in the script could not help but be noticed.

Generally, at first glance, costumes were adequate, but more attention should be payed to details. Decide in what period you are setting the piece and stick to it. A mismatch of styles leads to confusion visually e.g. Hedda’s hair needed to be held back off her face, no slip-on shoes for the men, make sure every sheet of the manuscript is written on. Small points I know but non the less important.

On the whole this was a good performance but lacked attention to detail. Fortunately,your cast leads were strong and well experienced. This was a complex play for a first attempt and I applaud your tenacity.  I wish you success with any future productions.

Once again thank you for your generous hospitality