Live theatre explodes back onto the Southwick stage

REVIEW By Debbie Creissen

Friday, 17th September 2021, 8:08 am
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 8:10 am
Wick Director Gary Cook
Wick Director Gary Cook

REVIEW, Hedda Gabler, the Barn Theatre Southwick

After 18 months of being dark, the Barn Theatre Southwick explodes back on stage with a thrilling performance of Hedda Gabler.

Ibsen’s seminal realist work, long known as one of the iconic pieces for a female actress has been refreshed by Patrick Marber’s scintillating adaptation.

By untethering the piece from a specific time, and paring down the plot to its essentials, while retaining Ibsen’s intention, the play sparkles like new, while still offering one of the most challenging roles in theatre.

Do the Players measure up? Yes they do, in spades?

Taking the title role, Victoria Storm is a powerhouse of frustration, sarcasm and, yes - humour. The rest of the cast shine just as brightly, with David Balfe’s menacing Judge Brack and Phil Nair-Brown’s unperceptive academic Tesman (Hedda’s new husband) standing out. Livvie Gilpin plays Hedda’s old ’school friend’ Mrs Elvsted as a bright-eyed and sweet woman, who shows Hedda how courage can be deployed. Harry Freeman plays Lovborg’s rival academic - a recovering alcoholic who returns to his dissolute ways as the plot unravels. Superb support is provided by Justine Smith as Tesman’s doting Aunt Juliana, and Nettie Sheridan as the surly maid, Berte.

As the play proceeds, the mood darkens - however this is lightened with flashes of wit and humour, moving it away from what could be a doom-laden piece.

Director Gary Cook has been developing the play with the cast over the last year or so - hampered by the pandemic and delayed twice from opening, it is finally here - with the production reflecting both the times we live in and a possibility of escape from our box sets and a return to live theatre.

Tickets are £12 from southwickplayers.org.uk or on the door, Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre, Southwick BN42 4TE

REVIEW By Debbie Creissen