by Destiney Warren
Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen has always been one of my favorite plays despite the fact that I had never actually seen a production of it. I read it in a Modern World Literature class, and I fell in love with the characters and the way that Ibsen presented something he saw as a problem in his society: the standards of society that kept people (especially women) from doing what they actually wanted to do and enjoying their life. While this doesn’t seem very shocking, Ibsen wrote this play in the late 1800s Norway, and it was very forward thinking for the time. I was excited to find out that The New Ensemble in Fresno was putting on a production of it, and I loved finally getting to watch it.
The entire play takes place inside the drawing room of George and Hedda Tesman (formerly Gabler) who have just returned from a six-month honeymoon. Hedda, already feeling trapped in the marriage, attempts to “mold a human destiny,” and it has disastrous consequences for her and the people around her.
Hedda is an incredibly hard character to play. She is manipulative, but she is also incredibly intelligent. Having been confined to the role that society has dictated for her life has made her so. However it is difficult to portray this on stage without making her look like a whiny and plainly bratty character. Brooke Aiello, who played Hedda in this production, reinterpreted the character and made it her own. She managed to show not only the aloofness of Hedda but also her deep emotion as well, which is not easy to do.
Chris Carsten played George Tesman (Hedda’s new husband), and he played the role perfectly. His obliviousness to everything around him was hilarious, and he captured the academic specialist stereotype completely. Elizabeth Fiester, who played his Aunt Julie, also did a fantastic job, and her “hinting” at him throughout the play is an often much needed comic relief from the fairly serious tone of the play.
Judge Brack is played by Brad Myers, and he also pulls off a rather difficult character to play. Judge Brack is sleazy—but not obviously sleazy. He really is the “male” Hedda in the play and Myers did a great job portraying that. Ted Nunes played Eilert Lovborg who is an old associate of George’s and who has had much more success than George. Eilert is an ex-bad boy trying to change his ways, and Nunes showed that well.
This show is definitely one you don’t want to miss. Not only because it’s one of my favorites (though that’s a good enough reason for me!), but also because it is a play that deals with some of the harder issues within society, things that were relevant back then and are still relevant today.
You still have plenty of chances to see Hedda Gabler: Friday, August 18 at 8 p.m., Saturday, August 19 at 2 p.m., Saturday, August 19 at 8 p.m., Sunday, August 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 with a $5 matinee on August 19. The minimum age is 15, and there is a use of gunshot sound effects so if loud noises bother you be warned. Make sure you catch this while you can! It performs at Fresno Pacific University in the Ashley Auditorium in McDonald Hall.
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