Broadway Features and Reviews
Broadway Critics Take Shots At Hedda Gabler
By Broadway Magazine Staff
Last night, Henrik Ibsen's fascinating drama Hedda Gabler returned to Broadway in a new revival by the Roundabout Theater Company. The production stars Mary-Louise Parker as Hedda, and a team of Broadway notables including Michael Cerveris and director Ian Rickson, who scored a hit already this season with his revival of Chekhov's The Seagull. Today, the Broadway opening night critics have spoken, and the reviews for this production are decidedly unenthusiastic. New York Times critic Ben Brantley in particular offers a colorful review, which includes allusions to the film Twilight and the musical Grease. Most critics felt that the adaptation, direction, and performances were all imperfect. For those who have never met (or seen) Hedda Gabler, the production remains a rare opportunity (however flawed) to discover one of the most intriguing characters in dramatic literature. A sample of critics comments below:
• With this "Hedda" it's not just that everyone is bad. It's that they're all bad in their own, different ways.
-Ben Brantley, New York Times
• It turns one of the most compellingly complicated women in modern drama into just another petulant, tantrum-throwing narcissist who could be stomping around the swanky apartments, velvet-rope nightclubs and high-end boutiques of any banal rich-bitch TV show.
-David Rooney, Variety
• At a recent preview, some in the audience laughed at points that had never, in previous revivals, seemed intentionally funny or ironic.
-Elysa Gardner, USA Today
• The problems start with Mary-Louise Parker's hyper-neurotic performance of the title character. The actress is feverishly upset from the get-go, giving her little room to ratchet up the resentment over the course of the play...
-Michael Kuchwara, AP
• Unlike the elegance he brought to Chekhov's "The Seagull" earlier this season, Ian Rickson's production is a disjointed, disappointing mess marked by uneven performances and bewildering choices that contradict the original text.
-Matt Windman, am New York
• Given much of her past work, one might expect Parker's Hedda to be the supreme neurotic. Not even close.
-Brian Scott Lipton, Theatermania
• The Connecticut playwright has sought to modernize Henrik Ibsen's 1890 portrait of the unhappy wife of a narrow-minded academic. But this effort undercuts the values of the play, which very definitely belongs to the 19th century, Bacchus vine leaves and all.
-Malcolm Johnson, Hartford Courant
• There are moments when Parker's charm and talent keep Hedda afloat, but all too often she drowns in misdirection. Already at curtain rise, she wakes up in a skimpy nightgown on a bed under an inclining mirror, as if she were Miss January after a night of revelry at the Playboy mansion.
-John Simon, Bloomberg
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