Review: Hedda Gabler (Leroy Street Theatre and Desiderata Theatre Company)

Toronto’s Storefront Theatre presents their adaptation of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler

heddaHedda Gabler currently playing at the Storefront Theatre is an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s original play written in 1890. Since it was written over a century ago I thought there would be parts of the show that were irrelevant or out-of-date but the themes that run through the show are definitely still relatable. You can tell it’s a period piece from the costumes, sets and bits of dialogue but it doesn’t hit you over the head with it. The show revolves around Hedda Gabler, as the titles suggests, and her relationships, insecurities and less than stable mental state.

The show starts off with the maid turning on a light inside the terrarium – that really struck me. It felt like she was turning on the light so we can look in and observe the insects in their confined space. See their interactions, behaviours and try to understand a part of their psyche. Just like the characters on stage who were about to come on and be observed in the confined space of their living room.

As the program says, the show explores themes of sex, death, hunger and fear, which we see in the different characters as they deal with their own mortal shortcomings. They all have their own agendas but Gabler is the puppet master who deceives and manipulates everyone according to her master plan.

Gabler is obsessed with beauty – or at least her morbid version of it – and comes across as a self-centred, conniving and shallow. Gabler is played by Lauren Horejda who does a fantastic job of making us hate her. She plays the part of bored, psychotic housewife to perfection. The entire cast works well together to deliver spot-on performances.

Gabler is also plagued with the idea of shaping someone’s destiny. She mentions it a few times and seems very preoccupied by it, perhaps since she is a woman in a time where she can’t shape her own. There are lots of references to Gabler being pregnant and she seems very uncomfortable, almost horrified that she may be pregnant. She doesn’t tell anyone and can’t even admit it to herself as if she’s in denial about the whole situation. You would think that a woman so obsessed with shaping another person’s destiny would welcome a child that she can shape, mould and control, but that’s not at all the case.

My date for the evening enjoyed the show as well. He knew nothing about the play and said it was interesting to have an unbiased opinion about a show that has been redone for a hundred years.

It’s a great little show with a great cast. I should mention that the show runs about two and a half hours with an intermission, which is usually too long for me, but this was engaging all the way through. I love going to the Storefront Theatre and feel it’s a much needed addition to the Bloor and Ossington neighbourhood. There’s pizza and gelato across the street and one of my favourite bar’s right next door, so you can make an evening of it.

Details:

  • Hedda Gabler plays at Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor St W) till September 7, 2014
  • Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 8:30pm and Sundays at 5pm
  • Tickets are $20
  • Tickets can be purchased online or at the door

Photo of Lauren Horejda as Hedda Gabler by Leroy Street Theatre

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