Several years ago, the Fabulous Monsters devised a highly entertaining take on Ibsen’s classic which they named Speed Hedda. This production has gone in an entirely opposite direction, in what could be called Valium Hedda. Danish actress Dina Rosenmeier possesses the stunning beauty that makes Hedda so desired by all men in this stark story of a woman frustrated by the gender restraints that keep her down. Rosenmeier takes too literally Hedda’s complaint that all she can do is “bore herself to death” by performing most of the play in a semitrance. She leads the cast, apparently with the complicity of co-directors Charles Otte and Rick Pagano, in an often inaudible, emotionally sterile outing. The most difficult to understand is the should-be sexy and exciting philosopher-writer Eilert Lovborg who captivates Hedda and her school pal Mrs. Elvsted (Gillian Brashear). As Lovborg, John Livingston seems to be trying to channel James Dean’s mumble-and-scrape style of acting. In an interesting twist, the directors update the second half from the 19th century to the present day with a laptop at center stage, but this choice would seem to obviate the central plot element of a handwritten manuscript that means life or death to Lovborg and Hedda. Though the intensity of the melodrama is weak, the story is told clearly and with admirably cruel humor. Costume designer Christina Wright clearly had fun updating the characters’ style between two centuries.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: May 2. Continues through May 31, 2008

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