Thursday, February 26, 2009

Help Me, Hedda

During the second scene of the Roundabout Theatre's flat and ill-conceived revival of Hedda Gabler, I started thinking about brighter days. My mind kept straying to memories of all the wonderful shows I'd seen featuring the talented cast and creative team whose work seemed so lifeless: Mary-Louise Parker in Proof, Michael Cerveris in great Sondheim shows like Assassins and Sweeney Todd, Paul Sparks in Blackbird and a slew of other Adam Rapp plays, director Ian Rickson's terrific production of The Seagull, playwright Christopher Shinn's fantastic Four.

How could so many talented people go so far astray? I've heard from a reliable source that problems started early on in rehearsals. Hedda Gabler is one of the shows I reviewed for; one that pleasantly surprised me in a lot of ways is Pal Joey.

So far, though, I'd have to say that the best shows I've seen in 2009 are the previously mentioned Becky Shaw, the wonderfully dynamic Uncle Vanya, starring Denis O'Hare at CSC and the Atlantic's finely honed Cripple of Inishmaan, a holdover from last year. I didn't seen the much maligned original Off-Broadway production, but about 10 years ago I caught the show, starring Fred Koehler, the kid from Kate & Allie, at the Geffen during a trip to Los Angeles. A good production, but not as intimate or stirring as the Garry Hynes one currently on stage. And I'd forgotten the many plot twists that unfold in the final scene.

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