Journal

blahblahblahBANG | The Parts are better than the Whole Dec 14, 2007

by Tania Kupczak

The difficulty I've always had with Hedda Gabler is that Hedda's fate is pre-determined due to action that takes place before the play begins. Once the audience opens the book on Hedda's life her fate and any conflict therein are certain - with little to no doubt on what this woman will do...how do you make that an interesting, urgent telling for today's audiences? Ibsen was the master/founder of realism, naturalism and plot construction...why do this play in a fish bowl environment filled with poultry images?

The turn of the century problem of social hierarchy that Ibsen presents and how Hedda is trapped within this social construct yet desperate for something outside her 'box', did not carry over into WET's production (the social hierarchy part was lost and no contemporary replacement was found for me.) I spent much of the 2 hours wondering what this Hedda really wanted. She was portrayed brilliantly by Marya Sea Kaminski, but I was uncertain as to what drove this woman, what did she want, and why did she want it? She was a bundle of unresoved tendancies which she held in expertly...but I never knew what drove her, what hindered her other than some life that occurred outside the room she couldn't seem to escape from. Marya created a Hedda who was an interesting study in self-conflicts...but I still wanted some shred of something more - I found the shedding of her 'feathers' a fantastic expression of her inner conflicts finally having a chance to breathe.

This shedding is a perfect example of how the parts were stronger than the whole. I loved that moment. I was fascinated by how Yorgen and Thea where strapped together physically and then later by pieces of paper. I loved the egg cut-out on Lovbourg's manuscript. Many of the movement sequences were illuminating and great fun - I wanted much more of that. The physical expressions of Hedda's psyche were wonderful to watch and started to bring the piece together for me. But at the same time I didn't like Lovbourg's aerial death sequence - it was pretty, but overkill for me.

So I wasn't sure what Hedda wanted, so WET didn't connect to Ibsen's challenge of the social contruction of the turn of the century, so we were looking at this slice of life as a chicken with lots of eggs image...so what...it was a great theatre experience! I liked the parts more than the whole, there are some great ideas here, fantastic images, excellent movement as always - I'm not sure why they are doing it or what they are trying to say with this piece, and I don't really see it as a pistol fit - but you might. Go see it - the conversations I had about the piece at The Sitting Room afterwards led me to believe that they succeeded.

I didn't like it all, but I wanted to talk about it. Go see this piece - it makes for great conversation and good theatre.

- Stephanie Farhood

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