Hedda Gabler

Cate Blanchett's return to the Sydney Theater Company, the result of a concerted campaign by topper Robyn Nevin, is a triumph on every level. Months after giving birth to her second child, Blanchett appears strong, energized and more assured than ever. Her embodiment of the difficult title role is impeccable.

With:
Julle Tesman - Julie Hamilton Berte - Annie Byron Jorgen Tesman - Anthony Weigh Hedda Gabler - Cate Blanchett Thea Elvsted - Justine Clarke Judge Brack - Hugo Weaving Ejlert Lovborg - Aden Young

Cate Blanchett’s return to the Sydney Theater Company, the result of a concerted campaign by topper Robyn Nevin, is a triumph on every level.

Months after giving birth to her second child, Blanchett appears strong, energized and more assured than ever. Her embodiment of the difficult title role is impeccable. Her coltish striding across the stage, her shallow veneer of calm over deep-seated nervous tension and sarcastic asides, are executed with perfect pitch and tone.

But the real strength of her multilayered performance is her ability to click with the cast and ensure every performance matches her own.

Every thesp ably keeps pace with Blanchett; her interplay with Hugo Weaving, Justine Clarke and Queensland Theater Company alum Anthony Weigh are particularly strong. As Julle Tesman, Julie Hamilton’s obsequious deference to Hedda was a joy to watch.

“Hedda Gabler” is STC’s best production in years. Director Nevin, who has performed the role of Hedda, brings an assuredness to her direction and obviously shares the cast’s delight in the excellent new adaptation by Andrew Upton, Blanchett’s husband.

“Hedda” is Upton’s third adaptation for the company; he also wrote and directed “Hanging Man” last year. His “Don Juan” and “Cyrano de Bergerac” were capable but not outstanding. But the third time’s the charm here; his playful and gently contemporary interpretation of “Hedda” is a key to the production’s success.

Kristian Fredrikson’s costumes are impeccable, with Hedda’s black satin gown for the final scene a particular knockout.

Don’t rush out for tix, however; the 8½-week run sold out last December. Fifteen standing-room tix are available an hour before showtime each night.

Hedda Gabler

Wharf 1 Theater, Sydney; 330 seats; A$63 ($44) top

Production: Sydney Theater Company presents a play in two acts by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Andrew Upton. Directed by Robyn Nevin.

Crew: Sets, Fiona Crombie; lighting, Nick Schlieper; costumes, Kristian Fredrikson; composer, Alan John. Opened and reviewed July 27, 2004. Running time: 1 HOUR, 50 MIN.

Cast: Julle Tesman - Julie Hamilton Berte - Annie Byron Jorgen Tesman - Anthony Weigh Hedda Gabler - Cate Blanchett Thea Elvsted - Justine Clarke Judge Brack - Hugo Weaving Ejlert Lovborg - Aden Young

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