I've never seen "Hedda Gabler" before, and in fact have never even read it (where art thou, English major? Wasting a whole semester on "The Canterbury Tales," that's where. Although I doubt Ibsen wrote in English anyway, right? How would I know? I've never read it!). But after seeing nothing but horrible reviews for this latest revival, starring Mary-Louise Parker of all people—who as we know is thoroughly awesome—of course I jumped like a turkey when Sarah offered me a $0.00 ticket last night. (And a $0.00 ticket that landed us in Row J, center orchestra, which was exactly two rows behind Whoopi Goldberg.) In other words, solid gold.
Anyway, I didn't hate it, and maybe that's because my mind hasn't been sullied by other, better productions over the years. I mean, this is one of those plays everybody else seems to have seen at least a million times, and they all have their peculiarities and preferences, right? A right and a wrong way to get things done? I can understand that (hello, "A Little Night Music"), although when the role has also been also tackled by Kelly "Take My Breath Away" McGillis, I think all bets are off. (Thanks again, Wikipedia!)
Oh, it was weird, all right, but I sort of assumed that was the point: nothing but PORTENT and stylized line readings all around. Is the judge always supposed to be drunk? And Jorgen such a buttoned-up little prune? (Although this comes, obviously, from someone who still hasn't forgiven Michael Cerveris for "Lovemusik.") Whatever, it all worked for me! And I've always found MLP's delivery a bit on the "ethereal" side, like she suspects either she or anyone with whom she is conversing might actually be an alien and is only trying to bridge the extraterrestrial divide. Also according to Wikipedia's handy interpretation breakdown, I would place her portrayal decidedly in the "manipulative villain" category, which historically is one of my preferred archetypes. Plus she looks fabulous in those costumes, like one tall, translucent exclamation point (!). So, what the hell? I had a lot of fun.