Hedda Gabler at the Theater for the New City

Natalie Menna (Hedda). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Natalie Menna (Hedda). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Rating
4.6/5

Director/translator Robert Greer set Ibsen’s masterpiece in 1981 Norway in this world premiere performed in English. Greer’s efforts in this regard are of note and help ensure broad access to Ibsen’s masterpieces by English-speaking audiences. This is akin to English or German performances of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s acclaimed Solveig’s Song, which possesses worldwide admiration. Greer’s “Hedda Gabler” is a refashioning of a tragic, universal, eternal human chronicle of boredom, greed, jealousy, desire, ambition, and tragedy. The ineffable results, tant pis, are inexorable.

Mike Roche as Judge Brack, Natalie Menna as Hedda, John Cencio Burgos as Tesman. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Mike Roche as Judge Brack, Natalie Menna as Hedda, John Cencio Burgos as Tesman. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The drama takes place in a pleasant, placid living room with a grand piano and comfortable furnishings like a leather sofa, upholstered upright chairs with end tables, a desk, bar, radio, and floor lamp. It possesses the accouterments of a comfortable middle-class home for littérateurs.  

Human nature prevails as little has changed since Henrik Ibsen’s portrayal of “Hedda Gabler” in 1891 Norway. In tonight’s “Hedda Gabler,” we witnessed the meandering deviltries of the pistol-packing soubrette and worldly young wife Hedda (Natalie Menna). Hedda contrives to eradicate her paunchy older husband Tesman’s (John Cencio Burgos) rival Eilert Lovborg (Brad Fryman), for a university post.

Mike Roche (Judge Brack), Natalie Menna (Hedda). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Mike Roche (Judge Brack), Natalie Menna (Hedda). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

We come to dislike the importunate unsavory Judge Brack (Mike Roche), who continually pressures Hedda to permit him to join her marriage in some type of triangle. Brack is intuitive enough to sense that Hedda married Tesman not for love but for social standing, security, and some monetary gain; he exposes her motivations for his purposes. Brack seems to possess some influence in the outcome of the selection for the university post.

Bailey Newman (Thea), Natalie Menna (Hedda). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Bailey Newman (Thea), Natalie Menna (Hedda). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Thea (Bailey Newman) seems a bit fatuous and has left her older husband to become mixed up with the roué and literary genius Lovborg. She’s capable enough to serve as his amanuensis in creating his magnum opus and might emerge as a minor hero.

The cast thrived as it characterized and supported the peregrination and kaleidoscope of the various interplays and tensions. Natalie Menna’s Hedda was particularly charming, vibrant, sparkling, and ultimately, as predetermined by the modernist raconteur Ibsen, her destiny was bitterly ironic and heartbreaking.

Brad Fryman (Eilert Lovborg), Bailey Newman (Thea). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Brad Fryman (Eilert Lovborg), Bailey Newman (Thea). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Some of Hedda’s snide comments about Tesman’s diffidence and shortcomings evoked some audience chuckles, but overall, there was a growing sense of portentous misfortune. As time passed, no satisfying or glorious dénouement seemed possible, and the closing scene evoked a horripilation.

The Theater for the New City presents exciting, stimulating, and globally entertaining works. It is surrounded by marvelous restaurants and is located in Manhattan’s East Village, a short walk from Tompkins Square Park. See the links below for tickets and upcoming events.

The Actors

Natalie Menna as Hedda

Bailey Newman as Thea

John Cencio Burgos as Tesman

Mike Roche as Judge Brack

Brad Fryman as Lovborg

Artistic

Produced by the August Strindberg Rep

Director/translator Robert Greer

Set design is by Lytza Colon.

Lighting design is by Alexander Bartenieff.

Costume design is by Billy Little.

Stage Manager is Jose F. Ruiz.

Performing company’s website: https://strindbergrep.com/ 

Theater for the New City

155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)

New York, NY 10003

Tickets: www.theaterforthenewcity.net <http://www.theaterforthenewcity.net/>

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM $18 general admittance $15 seniors & students

(212) 254-1109

Runtime: 90 minutes with a 10-minute intermission. Readers may enjoy our reviews of  Science, Oratorio for Living Things, Love, Sex and Real Estate, and Kite Runner.

Theater for the New City

155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)
New York, NY  10003

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM
$18 general admittance
$15 seniors & students

Tickets: www.theaterforthenewcity.net <http://www.theaterforthenewcity.net/>

(212) 254-1109

Runtime: 90 minutes with a 10-minute intermission.

Some of Hedda’s snide comments about Tesman’s diffidence and shortcomings evoked some audience chuckles, but overall, we experienced a portentous sense of misfortune. As time passed, no satisfying or glorious dénouement seemed possible, and the closing scene evoked a horripilation.

Readers may enjoy our reviews of  ScienceOratorio for Living ThingsLove, Sex and Real Estate, and Kite Runner.

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