“HEDDA GABLER” AN ENIGMA OF A WOMAN

BONNIE GOLDBERG

As the daughter of a distinguished general, growing up in a privileged environment, Hedda Gabler is accustomed to getting her own way. Used to ruling by manipulation, she enjoys ridiculing those she views as inferior to her and likes being amused at their expense. Feelings of boredom and a vast need for freedom fuel her everyday existence. Her beloved and bizarre collection of pistols gives her the sense of danger she craves to experience.

 

To become intimately acquainted with this unique and utterly disturbing creature, attend an unforgettable performance of Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” at the Hartford Stage until Sunday, September 23.

 

As a psychological study, Hedda Gabler is an enigma, one that verges on the edge of madness. Roxanna Hope is brilliant as the conflicted female who can’t find her place in society as she experiments with the role that best serves her needs. She is inspired and discontent, excitable and filled with disdain, highly emotional and easily distraught. She burns to make a difference, to direct the destinies of those around her, even if they are destroyed in the process.

 

Returning from a six month honeymoon with her mild, admiring professor husband George (John Patrick Hayden), Hedda is dismissive and critical of his loving Aunt Julia (Kandis Chappell) and has no use for her new servant Berte (Anne O’Sullivan) who has served George’s family for years.

 

Her interactions with an old school acquaintance Thea (Sara Tophorn) whom she tormented in their youth and with a former lover Eilert (Sam Redford) reveal her true evil inclinations, her jealous streak and her inability to recognize happiness. Judge Brack (Thomas Jay Ryan) is the only one in her world capable of calling Hedda’s bluff and revealing her self-destructive center. Jennifer Tarver directs this turn of the twentieth century drama, set in Norway, with a new adaptation by Jon Robin Baitz, in a bold and decisive manner.

 

For tickets ($56.50-93.50), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Sunday and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. The theater is introducing a Stage Pass for 18-27 year olds for the season for only $38, only until September 22. Call the box office.

 

Come view the master puppeteer Hedda Gabler as she realizes her beauty is not a gilt-edged ticket to a forbidden world and, ultimately, she has no power over anyone’s destiny, least of all her own.

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