Monday, February 15, 2010

Hedda Gabler left me cringed and despondent

Hedda: "Oh, it was a little episode with Miss Tesman this morning. She had laid down her bonnet on the chair there—[Looks at him and smiles.]—and I pretended to think it was the servant's."
Brack: "[Shaking his head.] Now my dear Mrs. Hedda, how could you do such a thing? To the excellent old lady, too"
Hedda: "[Nervously crossing the room.] Well, you see—these impulses come over me all of a sudden; and I cannot resist them. [Throws herself down in the easy-chair by the stove.] Oh, I don't know how to explain it"

Now, don't we all get these sudden impulses? I unabashedly confess that I do feel an impulse to act mean at times. Later, I regret losing control of myself.

In another scene - 

Mrs. Elvsted: "You have some hidden motive in this, Hedda"
Hedda: "Yes, I have. I want for once in my life to have power to mould a human destiny."
Mrs. Elvsted: "Have you not the power?"
Hedda: "I have not—and have never had it"
Mrs. Elvsted: "Not your husband's?"
Hedda: "Do you think that is worth the trouble? Oh, if you could only understand how poor I am. And fate has made you so rich! [Clasps her passionately in her arms.] I think I must burn your hair off after all."
Again, sometimes don't we wish we had such a power to wield? Something Godly and other worldly that would make others part of a strange rope trick and us, the circus masters? Yes, all of us do. The difference between the kind and the mean people of this world lies in the degree to which each of us exercise caution and restraint. For the human ego, 'I' is the be-all and the end-all of existence. It constantly needs some reassurance to quench its thirst. Those who realize this are able to carry themselves well. Not that, all of us should aspire to become altruists. There is a middle ground sufficiently vast to accommodate all of us.

The extracts (in quotes above) from the play 'Hedda Gabler' by Henrik Ibsen that was performed at Rangashankara over the last weekend aptly sum up the dominant mood that the audience got to experience. It portrayed the dark, vulnerable and arrogant side of the human character through Hedda, played by  Sheeba Chadha. It was one performance that would stay with any viewer long after he leaves the auditorium. So riveting it was that the expression "the actor got into the skin of the character" would hold 100% true! 

As the story in the Wiki link says, it is pretty old, set in the late 19th century and hence very challenging to perform. The dialogues and the intensity demand very competent performers and I was not disappointed. The old setting and the costume transported me to the past for 2.5 hours. Seeing Hedda so manipulative and the other characters often helpless, particularly her adoring admirer-husband Jorgen Tesman, played by Neeraj Kabi, made me cringe at the extent to which human nature can torment itself.

The other characters - Eilert Lovborg played by Samar Sarila, Judge Brack by Denzel Smith, Thea Elvsted by Tillotama Shome, Juliane Tesman by Veera Abadan and Berte by Shipra Singh - pale in comparison with Hedda. Samar was a little too loud and Denzel, a touch too one dimensional in all the scenes. The performance was overall good. The transition to the different segments in the course of the play was marked by a sense of quite purpose. That is, I know, a trifle strangely put, but it was!

The appreciation of the audience is often a pointer to the impact of the play as I have come to learn. This time, it was a consistent applause, not very rapturous and enthusiastic, but subdued and moved, probably because the last scene was too much to consume. Human will is never free and indeed, one never knows when the hand of destiny might override it.

I am glad that I made the decision to see this. Lesson learnt: Don't go to a play with any set expectations, go to enjoy it and savor it! 

P.S: 'Google' makes writing both easy and difficult. Before I wrote this, I got to read a lot and it enriched my perspective. At the same time, it narrowed the canvas I had to write. It doesn't make any sense to repeat what is already available after all!

1 comment:

Hari said...

I completely agree with the PS :) :D