The set is stark white and minimalist, suggesting the huge patio and pool of a $4 million dollar Gold Coast Mac Mansion.
Hedda Gabler (Danielle Cormac) is always in black. A strikingly attractive first class honours law graduate, she has plans for her life – the building of a legitimate business empire outsourcing welfare and disaster services as a safety-net to legitimise their main cash flow which comes from drugs and property development.
Her ruthless mother in law does not trust her and as the matriarch of the family, intends to veto the plan.
An old flame, Ejlert Lovborg, has just been released from prison, after a seven-year stretch during which he has kept his mouth shut about the family. Will he claim his dues, and carve off a slice of the empire? He and his fiancée (the daughter of the drug boss) are both "clean" of drug and alcohol addictions.
In Ibsen's play the original Hedda, an aristocrat, "married down" and in the QTC version Hedda is upper middle-class Melbourne, back from a honeymoon in Europe with a husband who cannot see why they had to look at a sculpture made by some bloke who has been dead for four hundred years.
In this world, men are used to domination. To claw her way to the top, Hedda must neutralise her mother in law, her ex-lover, her domineering husband and a corrupt property developer who knows too many of her secrets.
Danielle Cormac is superb in the role. Her wit takes no prisoners – and, though the humour is dark and biting, this is a supremely funny, laugh out loud play. But Danielle also manages simultaneously to portray a woman aware that she is in peril, surrounded by predators and also that she is supremely intelligent and manipulative.
We totally believe in her psychopathic ruthlessness.
There are stark and entirely compelling scenes of violence – the pristine set stained with blood and vomit.
This is a powerful play – one seasoned play-goer told me that she was shaking when it finished.
And we are completely engaged for all of the 100 minutes – laughing one moment, horrified the next, and up to the last moment never sure what will happen next, and whether Hedda will survive, or even if we want her to.
This may well be one of the most memorable QTC productions.