Locked down and locked in at Bristol Old Vic

FOR acting and production students, being able to attend their places of education is only half of their learning experience – they have to perform and prepare productions for performance.

This second lockdown has hit the arts community hard. Just as the Government made grants to venues and companies hit earlier this year, and tentative plans were made for socially-distanced and Covid-safe Christmas performances, Boris threw the switch and theatres and concert halls were once again in darkness.

It might all be OK on 3rd December, the putative date for the lockdown to be relaxed, but does that mean that family productions and shows can be rehearsed ready for curtain up?  Nobody knows.

Graduates from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School have been working with the city’s Old Vic theatre on a production of Lucy Kirkwood’s Hedda, an updating of the Ibsen classic. And although the planned public performances have been cancelled, their (also planned) live-streamed performances will go ahead from Wednesday 18th to Friday 20th November.

This new version is the ultimate lockdown tale. Trapped in a situation she can’t get out of, Lucy Kirkwood’s Hedda is transformed into a doer-upper in 21st-century Notting Hill. Just back from her honeymoon with George, an academic she doesn’t love, she is trapped by the prospect of normality, a future of utter boredom. George is pre-occupied with yet another paper on robotic ants and his dowdy sister Julia fusses over the prospect of aunthood. Surely life can be more interesting than this?

Hedda’s fateful attempts to gain power leaves her caught between three men, and something has to give.

The cast is led by Emma Hadley-Leonard as Hedda, with Issam Al Ghussain, Michael Drake, Charlie Hall, Dumile Sibanda and Tessa Wong.  The production is directed Jenny Stephens.

The virtual doors open 30 minutes before each performance, starting at 7.30 each evening with a 2.30 Thursday matinee. The production is suitable for viewers aged 15 and older.  The cost is £10. For more details, visit the website, www.bristololdvic.org.uk/whats-on/hedda

Production shots by Craig Fuller.