Translated by Nicholas Rudall
Directed by Kimberly Senior
At Writers Theatre, Glenoce
Tour de force performance by Kate Fry anchors bitingly psychological take on the Ibsen classic
Hedda Gabler, by “the father of realism” is Henrik Ibsen’s 1891 drama. It is a tour de force performance by Kate Fry as the neurotic, spoiled and totally devious Hedda Tesman (formerly Gabler). Hedda Gabler is the story of Ibsen’s ultimate socialite, the daughter of a Norwegian aristocratic General.
She is used to luxury, bored with her life (she seeks adventure); she perceives her life as a prisoner bound by societal conventions. She lacks inspiration as she deviously plots her own security as her feeling of alienation rules her life. Many of the greatest actress, including Maggie Smith, Annette Bening, Judy Davis and Ingrid Bergman among others have relished playing the “female Hamlet” Hedda Gabler. You can now add Kate Fry to that list. Her Hedda Gabler is a most stingily psychological performance as she uses vocal inflections, terrific body language and stirring facial expressions to indicate her true motivations. Fry’s work is commanding, subtle and effective.
Hedda is determined to live in luxury and she now realizes that her weakling husband, George Tesman (the wining Sean Fortunato) is an academic who’ll never give her the security and enterprise necessary to meet her needs. She plots to help George get a facility position and when one of her ex-boyfriends, Eilbert Lovberg (Mark L. Montgomery) is perceived as a threat—she shrewdly manipulates him and his new love interest, Mrs. Elvsted (Chaon Cross) to her desires. We witness the cruelty of Hedda when she is mean to Berta (Kathleen Ruhl), the maid and she insults George’s aunt, Miss Julia Tesman (Barbara Figgins) upon meeting her.
Feeling powerless, Hedda connives to dominate all the people in her life. She enjoys the game of psychological dominance and the power struggle that tests her wit and her reading of people. She struggles with Judge Brack (the sly Scott Parkinson) for control her life and the lives of those around her. We see how Hedda’s manipulations ultimately traps her beyond her ability to escape. Ibsen’s plot is clever and compelling. Hedda is truly the anti-heroine whose elusive character is alluring yet wicked.
Director Kimberly Senior’s smart casting produced several fine performances besides the excellent turn from Kate Fry. The rest of the “A” list Equity players include yeoman work from Sean Fortunato, Scott Parkinson and mark Montgomery. Jack Magaw’s opulent set and Rachel Laritz’s period perfect costumes add flavor to this riveting drama. Ibsen’s terrific work is in good hands her. These players put on an ‘actor’s master class.
Talk theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 16, 2014
For more info checkout the Hedda Gabler page at theatreinchicago.com
At Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, IL, call 847-242-6000, www.writerstheatre.org, tickets $35 – $70, Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 7:30 (select Wednesday matinees at 2 pm), Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 7 6 pm, running time is 2 hours, 45 minutes with 2 intermissions, through March 16, 2014