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A CurtainUp DC Review
It's a choice. — Hedda of her former lover's suicide.
Even the floral arrangements seem right for Lucciana Stecconi's stark, smart set for Hedda Gabler, now playing at Washington's Studio Theatre. The time is not 1891 when the play premiered but today.
Mark O'Rowe's adaptation and Studio's newish Associate Artistic Director Matt Tomey's crisp direction of this shortened version of Ibsen's tragedy misses nothing. Lucciana Stecconi's stunning set is beautifully lit by Scott Zielinski, Costume Designer Murell Horton'sovely dresses for Hedda are stunning, and Fitz Patton's subtle sound heightens moods without being intrusive.
Shane Kenyon and Julia Coffey (Photo by Allie Dearie)
In 1891 — the dark ages in terms of psychology, the women's movement and the notion of self fulfillment — Hedda had very few options. Although every man in town was after her, she chose Jorge Tesman (Avery Clark), a boring academic who is clueless about real life and real women, because he was "available." In 2016, Hedda could remain single, have a child or not have a child as she wished, marry, divorce and make her own life rather than being just Jorge's wife. No criticism, not even scandal, what Hedda fears most, would follow.
Julia Coffey as Hedda most ably runs the gamut of her complex character's emotions. She's the general's daughter who is used to getting what she wants. Her moods are mercurial. She's sexy, sultry, scheming, manipulative and not to be trusted. (Disclosure: because Julia Coffey is from Washington, where I live, I have had the pleasure of seeing this versatile, gifted and now seasoned actor since she was in high school.. She aces Hedda brilliantly.
Shane Kenyon's Lovborg, the scruffy writer Hedda once loved, is empathy inducing. It's easy to sense what Hedda saw in him and what he saw in her. Doomed lovers on stage can be trite but not these two. Their scenes together are riveting. As for the supporting cast, Kimberly Schraf's Julie Tesman, sister of Hedda's husband, has charm and the ability to induce sympathy.
Hedda is a triumph for Studio and, particularly, Julia Coffey.
by Henrik Ibsen in a new version by Mark O'Rowe.|
Directed by Matt Torney
Cast: Kimberly Schraf (Julie Tesman); Rosemary Regan (Berte); Avery Clark (Jorge Tesman); Julia Coffey (Hedda Tesman); Thea Elvsted (Kimiye Corwin); Michael Early (Judge Brack); Shane Kenyon (Ejlert Lovborg).
Set Designer, Luciana Stecconi
Costume Designer, Murell Horton
Lighting Designer, Scott Zielinski
Sound Designer, Fitz Patton
Run time: 2 hours and 20 minutes including one intermission.
Studio Theatre, 1501 14th Street, NW; Washington, DC; studiotheatre.org; 202-332-3300; tickets begin at $49; May 11 to June 19, 2016.
Review by Susan Davidson based on May 15 matinee.
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