Recording Hedda, an exciting take on Ibsen’s classic Hedda Gabler

Recording Hedda gives a two-way mirror look at the psychological side of a modern woman, whose fictional character takes on her private persona. The production draws on Ibsen’s original play, Hedda Gabler.

The original plot evolves around the lead character, Hedda Gabler, the daughter of an aristocratic general. From an affluent background she’s turned into intrigues and manipulations to survive her boredom. When we meet her she’s just returned from her honeymoon, together with her young and aspiring new husband Mr Tesman. They are surrounded by a unscrupulous family friend, who is secretly in love with Hedda, Judge Brack. There’s also the aunt Juliana and the servant Bertha, that Hedda manipulates on a daily basis much to her own entertainment. It quickly becomes clear that Hedda has never loved her husband and that she married him only because she thinks her years of youth are over. It’s also suggested that she may be pregnant. On the other hand she seem to be quite taken by Tesman’s academic rival, Mr Lovborg, a talented man although quite a broken man. He’s now in a relationship with Hedda’s old school friend, Mrs Elvested, who’s married to another man. When he reappears in their lives Hedda’s marriage quickly deteriorates, there’s rivalry and jealousy, and in the end Hedda is slipping into total despair as her options narrow.

Recording Hedda captures you from the very beginning, when the light goes on and there’s an intense dialog between Hedda and Mrs Elvsted. The room is filled with Hedda’s intense manipulation which is met with Mrs Elvsted’s fragile and naive nature. Then the recording stops and you’re back in studio. Then the recording is on again. And as it goes on and off you feel the two stories gradually merging until it has become one story, one life drama, and you’ll find yourself emerged with Hedda’s final desperation.
Sarah Hand has played Hedda before, in Hedda Gabler at Riverside Studios back in 2010, given the critic “The tautness, the leanness, the unrelenting tension give this imaginative staging of Hedda Gabler the feel of a powerful and tragic chamber-opera.” There’s without doubt she knows her character well, and supported by a skilful cast, she carries the play from beginning to end.

Hedda Gabler is a play published in 1890 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. It has subsequently gained recognition as a classic of realism, nineteenth century theatre. The entire performance of Recording Hedda brought the play to our century whilst at the same time being true to and honouring the original play. The raw talents on stage combined with the intensity created by the limitation of the theatre, shaped like a black box, together with music and visual effects made it an intense two hour drama, as relevant today as it was in 1890.

Recording Hedda is a collaboration between composer Kaja Bjørntvedt and director Terje Tveit, exploring the dynamic between text and sound. Cast includes Tricia Deighton, Tom Fava, Sarah Head, Matthew Hebden, Roseanne Lynch, Mark Moore and Matthew Rutherford. Now playing at the New Diorama, London, until 28th September. Tickets available at