Theater Preview: HEDDA GABLER (Los Angeles Theatre Works at UCLA)

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by Eve Meadows on June 27, 2019

in Theater-Los Angeles


You can’t keep a bad/mad woman down. Not to be confused with A Doll’s House, where Henrik Ibsen offers an almost feminist defense of a vastly underestimated wife, his poisonous 1891 domestic drama Hedda Gabler depicts a very different “helpmate.” Here a bored and bitter housewife transforms her contempt for her scholar-husband into domestic tragedy.

With his pioneering work of psychological realism, first produced in 1890, Ibsen created the first post-modern female anti-hero. The play still retains its intrinsic power, although problems of translation and style can trip up contemporary productions. Happily, Los Angeles Theatre Works will be using the 2000 crisp and modern translation by Doug Hughes, whose script is anything but idiomatic as it eliminates formalities and circumlocutions that have riddled some versions in the past.

Late Victorian social conventions force the intelligent, spoiled and amoral Hedda into the unwanted role of wife and, possibly, mother-to-be. Married for six months to a conventionally good man with career prospects, she abhors his touch and yearns for escape. Yet Hedda herself is too convention-bound and proud of her social standing (her father was a general) to risk the scandal that might win her freedom. Instead, she seeks to seize control of her destiny by exerting power over the life of others. Her desperate dissatisfaction leads to dangerous choices.

Directed by the great Debbie Devine (co-founder and Artistic Director of L.A.’s own 24th Street Theatre) and starring Jocelyn Towne as Hedda Gabler, Josh Bitton as Eilert Lovborg, Gregory Harrison as Judge Brack, JD Cullum as George Tesman, Shannon Holt as Aunt Julie, Elizabeth Ruscio as Berta, and Karen Malina White as Mrs. Thea Elvsted, each of the four performances at UCLA’s state-of-the-art James Bridges Theater will be recorded live June 28-30, 2019 in front of an audience for future radio broadcast and distribution on CD.

photos of Shannon Holt, Gregory Harrison, Jocelyn Towne by Joshua Arvizo

photos of Josh Bitton, JD Cullum, and Karen Malina White by Matt Petit

Hedda Gabler
L.A. Theatre Works
James Bridges Theater
UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television
235 Charles E. Young Drive
Friday, June 28, 2019 at 8
Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 3 & 8
Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 4
for tickets ($15-$65) call 310.827.0889
or visit LATW

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