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Did Ruth Wilson's Hedda Gabler charm the critics?

The Luther actress starred in Ivo van Hove's first production at the National


Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"As he showed with A View from the Bridge, director Ivo van Hove's great talent is to make every play a play for today. This is not an act of historical reconstruction but a radical rethinking so gripping that you find yourself leaning in, listening to nuance, wondering what exactly happens next."

"In Ruth Wilson's superb, subtle performance, she barely knows what she will do from moment to moment. "

"It is a dark and unusual vision, and produces a Hedda unlike any I have ever seen, devastating in its impact, a play full of pain and doubt."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"Although I admired his stripped-back production of A View from the Bridge a few years ago I have remained pretty agnostic about his supposed exceptionality. Yet with this smartly conceived and surprisingly understated reading of an overfamiliar classic – lent a fresh translation by Patrick Marber – I have now joined the converts."

"This is a bold, clear, finally harrowing account of the play."

"[Wilson] is sensational. Sensational might suggest "showy", but [her] gift is to keep us watching when she is almost a bystander. "

"We're being presented with one of the performances and productions of the year."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"Wilson is especially good at conveying the desolation of a Hedda confined in a meaningless marriage. She is first seen slumped in her dressing gown over a piano. Even the way she restlessly fidgets with the blinds becomes a token of her despair."

"[Kyle] Soller gives us a fiercely impassioned Tesman who finds a true soulmate in Sinéad Matthews's determined Mrs Elvsted: Van Hove and Marber subtly suggest their final literary collaboration is based on a strong earlier attachment."

"There is less subtlety in the brutally domineering tactics of Judge Brack, but Rafe Spall executes the idea well, and Chukwudi Iwuji has just the right Byronic fervour as Lovborg."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard


"Ruth Wilson brings a thrilling volatility to its title role. She captures the boredom and reckless verve of a passionate woman who rebels against the numbness of a stifling marriage, spots vulgarity unerringly yet dreads the prospect of scandal."

"Some of van Hove's choices are heavy-handed. For instance, we hear Joni Mitchell's song "Blue" four times, a rather obvious theme tune for a vision of melancholy soul-searching. "

"Kyle Soller's Tesman is a perfect mix of pedantry, gaucheness and bright-eyed ambition, while Rafe Spall has a sinister authority as Judge Brack, who at first seems to have an easy charm but turns out to be a twisted thug."

Natasha Tripney, The Stage


"Patrick Marber's new version of the text encompasses power and privilege: Hedda cannot see what she has, only what she lacks. As is customary with van Hove the direction is meticulous."

"All van Hove productions contain at least one incredibly striking image: here it's of Hedda prone on the floor, stained, beneath Brack."

"Even if this is meant to illustrate the impossibility of her situation, her relative powerlessness, it's still jarring and nasty. It sours the whole show. And I'm fed up of it. I'm fed up of watching women being violated, fed up of watching them being humiliated even if it is to demonstrate that women's bodies are never completely their own. In productions directed by men. Turn the page."

Hedda Gabler runs at the National Theatre until 21 March 2017.