Thank you so much for letting us read your latest play.
Here at the agency, I think we are all agreed that it is an extremely powerful piece which asks many penetrating questions concerning morality in modern life. In short, WE LOVE IT, although some of the subtlety of your legendary word play may have been lost to us – a Linguaphone record bought from a charity shop by one of our more enterprising interns, entitled ‘Norwegian for Fun’, went some way to establishing a flavour of your native tongue, however as your main character, Hedda, never finds herself in the unfortunate situation of having to call room service to inform them that her lavatory is blocked, or inquire of a jolly grocer whether he has an adequate supply of pickled herring for immediately shipping to the United States, it ultimately proved to be of limited utility.
Although we are totally convinced of the quality of your dramatic writing, you did ask us for a report, so we feel that we must point out one or two small reservations that we have about your current plot outline, and perhaps make some useful suggestions of how these tiny problems might be resolved.
Firstly, your main character, the eponymous Hedda, is a vivid, vibrant character but we came to the conclusion that she really wasn’t very likeable. She has married her husband because as she says, ‘she had danced herself to a standstill’, but we only hear about this dancing, we never witness it. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could see Hedda perhaps reviving her dancing career? As it is, she is bored with her husband and frankly, so are we. He isn’t very likeable either, is he? Ask yourself Henrik ; would a woman like Hedda, who has been the toast of some obscure Norwegian town, really marry a man who is devoted to his Aunty, and obsessed by embroidered slippers? We think that you should ditch the Aunty and the slippers and make George into a lovable ‘professor distrait’ with a secret sexy side, which he shows when he whisks Hedda onto the dancefloor and lets her feel the strength of his critical treatise.
Hedda is also very tetchy with her schoolfriend, Mrs Elvsted, who seems very tense. Whether she is a victim of her hormones, or a disenchanted religious maniac, we never discover, because you simply haven’t shown us what her problem is. Imagine if you wrote a scene where Hedda and Mrs Elvsted take advantage of Happy Hour at the Soused Herring Cocktail bar. They get absolutely rat-arsed, ripping into embroidered slippers and ridiculous academic rivalries. Later while they are sitting in the road wearing traffic cones on their heads, Mrs Elvsted confesses that she desperately wants to go in for gynoplasty, and Hedda gives her the name of a good surgeon. They cry, put their arms around one another and bond. Now we are really getting to know these characters.
But, in your outline Hedda simply doesn’t get any nicer, does she? Enticing her former lover Lovborg (isn’t the name a little too obvious and a tiny bit silly?) to have a drink despite the fact that he is a reformed alcoholic, thus setting about his ruination, and then, lo and behold, burning his much vaunted ‘brilliant manuscript’. Isn’t this all a little far fetched? I mean Hedda must have a nice side to her too and we NEVER see it. At the agency we always tell our authors that it repays to make your characters well-rounded – no one is simply that nasty or miserable, Henrik.
It goes on, when she hears that her ex- lover, Lovborg, (really got to think about changing that name) has shot himself in a brothel, what exactly does it add? Wouldn’t it have been better if he’d just had a minor traffic accident and then there would have been the possibility of Hedda nursing him back to health and a little redemption?
Henrik, we find this very hard to say, but we really don’t think that you are going to find pitching this very easy, if you insist of ending the story with the main character rushing to her bedroom and shooting herself dead with her father’s pistols. It’s such a downer. We can see publishers all over London just shaking their heads and flinging your masterpiece into the recycling. Please re -think!
Perhaps, after the surgery, Mrs Elvsted and George get it together. Meanwhile Hedda has nursed Lovborg back to health. Then all four of them could take a holiday. In the final scene we see them ‘dancing to a standstill’ to some wonderful tune, on a balcony overlooking the Med.
The audience will leave the theatre whistling that tune and feel that they’ve had a life-enhancing experience, rather than going home to wrestle with modern morality and ultimately slit their wrists. Don’t you think you owe them that much after they’ve forked out 70 quid a seat in the West End?
Once again, thank you so much for consulting us at the agency and we wish you the best of luck with your play.
p.s. Just a thought… what about a change of title? Maybe ‘Strictly Hedda’?