There have been numerous revivals of this Ibsen’s classic recently and the last I managed to catch it was at the Almeida with the fantastic Eve Best who deservedly won her share of awards and accolade. This new updated version set in present day Notting Hill will have a lot to live up to. References to modern day include a 6 months trip to the Far East instead of a train journey around Europe and what used to be a manuscript has now become a USB Flash drive. However, attempts made for these to be blended into the script stands out too much as a deliberate act to modernise it rather than add anything to the dramatics. Some update works beautifully, like the chic (albeit a little run down) apartment where the play is set brings a real sense of living slightly beyond their means and the clever scene change with the boys out clubbing enhances the image of Eli descend into drugs and alcohol. The cast bring a real youthfulness to the play and the writing and direction succeeded in that. There were some very capable acting in Adrian Bower as the rough and wild Eli and Alice Patten as the timid and emotional Thea. Cara Horgan’s spoilt, immature sixth former Hedda contributes towards understanding of her manipulative behaviour. However, Toby, played by Christopher Obi, lack the menace in his threat to force the conclusion of the play. Overall, the modern update fails to transport the felling of closeness and being trapped felt by Hedda Gabler in Norway mid-winter than being in the middle of London in September. Although there are Hedda Gablers out there which will provide more dramatics, this is a competent attempt to bring something different to one of Ibsen’s great.


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