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    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    Hedda Gabler at ICCT

    One of the great things about participating in local theatre is that you meet, and become friends with, some really cool people. Our poker group is a theatre-oriented group, most of us having worked with each other at some point in the past few years.

    There are some problems associated with this, however. Case in point? ICCT’s production of Hedda Gabler. I’ve worked, associated, and hung out with everyone but one person in the cast. Indeed, at one point the only people onstage were four members of our poker group. This can make for some awkward moments after the show, when people you like ask how you enjoyed the play. “You were great” you have to say sometimes. “That one part was interesting where you did that” you say.

    Fortunately, this problem doesn’t arise with Hedda. Quite the opposite, actually. The production is great. The performances are great. I can’t recommend seeing the show highly enough.

    Some highlights:

    * There seems to have been a conscious choice not to attempt any dialects. Rather, a natural speaking style was utilized. This brought an immediacy to the show that made it far more compelling. Sure, the lines placed the show in the past. But the acting brought it into the present.

    * The set. I’m not a big set person. I like minimalist productions. But I can appreciate a good set, and the show has a good set. Nice use of the play space, functional doors and windows, and appropriate furniture. But the best thing about it was the piano room off the main stage. This was an area viewable when the door was open and out of sight when the door was closed. Playing portions of some scenes there was a stroke of genius.

    * The performances. The show was perfectly cast. Sometimes when you are watching your friends act, it’s tough to disassociate who they are as your friends. That is, they don’t truly become the character for you; rather, they are X being Y. Such was not the case here. Everyone became their characters, and there was no overlap between who they are as individuals to me and who they were as their characters (although, if you know Adam, there is something a little disconcerting about seeing him play a brilliant person undone by alcohol). Kris did a good job of bringing to life Hedda without making her a monster. Ditto Greenman as the judge. Brian played against type as the nebbishy, humorless Tesman. Adam was a great choice for Lovberg, and Annette, the only person onstage I’ve never worked with, was an appropriately sweet and determined Mrs. Whatshername. Madonna and Ellen rounded out the cast in small, but well-played, roles.

    Sure, it wasn’t perfect. For one thing, Kris started out a little stilted before falling into a conversational speech pattern. But that seemed to be more nerves than anything else, and it is more a brief situation with that night’s production than an ongoing problem. Something that did seem to be an ongoing problem was one scene where the second room was used. Kris and Adam were onstage, Greenman and Tanman were in the second room. But rather than standing there talking, they were moving around in there, and it was somewhat distracting, particularly because they weren’t on the verge of being involved in the scene on the stage. But that’s it. All in all it’s a very good production, and I would urge anyone in the area to see it.

    Oh, and I miss the fountain pop and the Hy-Vee cookies we used to sell at intermission as opposed to the pre-packaged stuff. But that has nothing to do with Hedda.

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