Showmag.com

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Resolving Hedda

E-mail Print

The character of Hedda Gabler is one of the most famous female roles in dramatic literature. She is headstrong, self-centered, casually dismissive of others, and really quite exasperating.

In his new play, Resolving Hedda, playwright Jon Klein explores what Hedda thinks about Ibsen's take on her life. This is not Hedda, the actress; this is Hedda the actual character. And Hedda has a lot to say. In fact, she’s so anxious to speak, she interrupts the turn-off-your-phones-and-unwrap-your-candies speech in her rush to explain herself.

It turns out that Hedda (Kimberly Alexander) is tired of perpetually living out her life on countless stages around the world. She is even more incensed with having to shoot herself at the end of every performance. She hatches a plan to use her familiarity with the play to subvert Ibsen’s intentions and escape to freedom.

If this sound very meta-theatrical, it is. But Resolving Hedda is no fusty graduate student’s deconstruction of the play. It’s really more like Hedda Gabler meets Noises Off. Over the course of the play, Hedda will refuse to say her lines, appear in scenes which don’t include her, and lecture her befuddled fellow cast members about Ibsen’s dreary habit of foreshadowing.

Like all the best satirists, Klein obviously understands and appreciates the source material. The laughs are plentiful and varied. There is the ongoing joke of the renegade character, but also commentary on the theatre, modern culture, and female empowerment. Klein manages the difficult feat of keeping the laughs coming consistently through both acts. It’s true that the final 10 or 15 minutes do lag a bit, and the curtain deserves a stronger punch, but that’s what world premieres allow you to see.

Much of the play’s success can be laid at the capable feet of Alexander. It is a truly phenomenal performance in which she grabs the audience by the throat on her first entrance and holds them tight until her exit. She is edgy, caustic, smart, and commands the stage effortlessly. Guided by Maria Gobetti’s invisible direction, Alexander’s larger-than-life characterization never slips into simple parody, and it never misses a laugh.

Chad Coe proves another comic virtuoso as Eilert Lovborg. One would think that Coe’s expertise in deploying his resonant voice for maximum absurdity would be enough, but he’s also an accomplished physical comedian. Watch the subtly varied ways he flips up the tails of his coat and crosses his legs on the too-small-for-his-height sofa. The only disappointment is that Coe’s role is relatively small. Tom Ormeny tries a different route with the villainous Judge Brack, underplaying the part quite successfully. It is a performance that sneaks up on you and is all the more potent for it.

Ben Atkinson is delightfully abstracted as Hedda’s hapless husband, George Tesman, and his efforts to keep the play running smoothly are very funny. Alyce Heath’s Aunt Julia and Marisa Van Den Borre’s Thea suffer a bit from sharing the stage with such graceful farceurs. Both of them understand their roles, but they work too hard to find the style. Sean Spencer’s brief appearances as the Stagehand makes one look forward to larger roles.

Evan Bartoletti has created a detailed and deliberately conventional set which offers the perfect playground for the actors. A. Jeffery Schoenberg’s costumes are not only attractive but delicately support each character.

Victory Theatre    September 29 – November 12, 2017    www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org

 

Spotlight

Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.