Hedda Gabler opening night

“I can’t breathe!”

Even as Hedda utters these words, she is taking part in her own suffocation – starting fires and filling her world with smoke – and shooting holes into the lives of those around her.

From Rick Jones’ haunting, disjointed music, accompanying Hedda’s dance of entrapment at the top of the show, to the claustrophobic closeness of Ed Rosing’s sharp, sleek 1930s-inspired set design, we too become part of this world.

Hedda Gabler opened last night to a packed house – and a performance that did director Jane Carnwath (assisted by Lynda Yearwood), producer Andy Fraser and cast proud.

Sochi Fried (pictured, photo by Joshua Meles) plays Hedda with fiery precision, as Hedda struggles with her new life with Tesman (played with lovable nerdiness by James Harbeck), his Aunt Juliana (Jane Reynolds’ lovely portrayal of a sweet and simple woman) and maid Berthe (a fun and frank Ilene Cummings) and her former life as the privileged daughter of General Gabler. Family friend Judge Brack (played with oily charisma by Andrew Batten) creates a triangle with Hedda and Tesman – and a second triangle emerges with the appearance of Thea (her vulnerability and strength played with lovely balance by Leslie McBay) and Lovborg (Malcolm Taylor, capturing equal parts intellect and sensuality).

The beauty of it all is merely superficial, though – and to say that things go horribly wrong would be a gross understatement.

Rounding out the design of this marvelous production are stunning 30s costumes by Margaret “The Costumator” Spence (assisted by Peter deFreitas) and beautiful lighting design by “Super Mike” Spence. And, of course, the evening was guided by fabuloso SM Margot “Mom” Devlin, who also ran lights (and helped with set painting), with Eileen Lonergan riding shotgun in the booth as sound op.

An amazing team of builders, light hangers, painters and house staff worked around the busy rehearsal schedule to put this evening together – and it was amazing.

You have to see this show.

But, remember chickens, this ain’t your grandma’s Hedda Gabler.


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