Take a few particularly vile individuals, throw them into a house with some innocuous and naïve others and have them all spurred on by a bored manipulative new bride and what do you have? No, this is not the latest reality series on FOX but it had about the same impact and appeal as one. No, it's Henrik Ibson's "Hedda Gabler" currently playing at Intiman as part of their Summer Theatre Festival. And while there were some interesting moments on the whole it amounted to a one-note mélange of duplicity that had about as much intrigue as an episode of "Jersey Shore".
Hedda (Marya Sea Kaminski) has just returned from her six-month honeymoon with her new husband Jorgen Tesman (Ryan Fields), a young scholar trying to make a name for himself. Upon returning they are greeted by Judge Brack (Timothy McCuen Piggee) who seems to control the purse strings to Hedda and Jorgen's money and although he seems to be on their side we quickly find there's more to the relationship between Hedda and the Judge than previously thought. Enter Thea Elvsted (Fawn Ledesma) who has left her husband for a returning noted author, Lovborg (Michael Place), whom we find is Jorgen's competition and Hedda's former lover. Bored and not in love with her husband, Hedda spins a web of manipulations that spiral out of control.
Director Andrew Russell has taken this turn of the century drama and moved it out of a specific time period and by doing so gutted any reason as to why Hedda would feel trapped in this marriage. Instead she comes across as just a little bit psychotic and completely unlikable. Add into that his decision to have Hedda's movements and ultimate descent into madness choreographed by the amazing Olivier Wevers, and I really question what story he was trying to tell as so many stylized elements just amounted to a lack of coherence.
Many of the performers are absolutely amazing … in other things I've seen from them. Kaminski was outstanding in "Electra" at Seattle Shakes and while being the most riveting person on this stage, still comes across as a little static. Fields was stunning in Open Circle's "Ajax" but here resembles an oblivious doormat. And Piggee has wowed in too many things to mention and was engaging here but still felt stuck in one gear. But that lack of levels seemed to be the way of the performances as directed by Russell. Especially Ledesma whose constant whining and borderline hysteria just became grating.
By the end of the play I can honestly say I'm not really certain what any of the characters wanted but it didn't matter to me, as I didn't care about any of them. Much like I don't care what the "I'll do anything to get on TV" folks from reality shows are up to. And while I still have one show in the festival to go so I don't know what my favorite show of the fest will be, I'm pretty sure I know what my least favorite will be.
"Hedda Gabler" performs at the Intiman through August 25th. For tickets or information visit the Intiman Theatre online at www.intiman.org.
Photo credit: Chris Bennion