By Henrik Ibsen
Adapted by Jon Robin Baitz
From a translation by Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey
Directed by Kate Ingram
Starring Victoria Gluchoski
Theatre UCF, Orlando FL
Some see this play as a validation of feminist power, some see this play as a courageous attack by disenfranchised people everywhere, but I see this as bad girl getting revenge and paying the price she negotiates. Look back five or six generations, and imagine your great great grandparents having sweaty sex. Not a pleasant thought, but that’s where beautiful, jaded and repressed Hedda (Gluchoski) comes from. Her new husband George (Terence Lee) adores her, yet has not the faintest clues as to why they might want to get naked. She has a house they can’t afford, a servant (Lilly Vreeland) she can’t tolerate and a friend Thea (Amanda Dayton) she can’t intimidate. But more to the point, she has two pistols her father left her, and we know what that means. Why she married intellectual George is murky, but no matter. Were he to find her naked with Judge Brack (Daniel Romano) or writer Eilert Lovborg (Andy Hansen) he would offer them a drink and ask if he should come back later. It’s a soap opera complete with an underscore, a bad ending, and a heartless lead.
Gulchsoki combines the ennui of the over-wealthy with the social climbing of the nouveau riche. She’s statuesque and cold-hearted and will destroy a man just because. Lee is our comic relief; he’s bubbly and clueless and a lover of intellectual trivia. More interesting is Judge Brack (Daniel Romano). It’s not clear he actually adjudicates trials, but he looks villainous in his black suit and needs a moustache to twirl. The professorial Lovborg (Andy Hansen) looks like he taught Milton to the cast of “Animal House;” he’s come up with a new genre of writing that threatens George’s career path, and if there’s one thing Hedda needs, its George making more money. All this villainy flows across a translucent set of Plexiglas and smoke. The room is elegant yet dark, the furniture uncomfortable, the dresses constricting. So far George is lucky, Hedda hasn’t tried to kill him yet but he should be wary of the pickled herring. Hedda may not love him, but she hasn’t figured out how to kill him either. While Ibsen isn’t known for sparkling drawing room comedy, this new adaptation coupled with director Ingram’s wit makes this a gripping yet sordid little tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
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