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CRITIC’S CHOICE: Fry, cast power impressive ‘Hedda Gabler’

Published: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 12:29 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 12:30 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Kate Fry and Scott Parkinson appear in a scene from “Hedda Gabler” at Writers Theatre.

GLENCOE – Kate Fry’s acting talents never fail to amaze audiences, whether she’s appearing at Writers Theatre (in “A Minister’s Wife,” “Oh, Coward”or, most recently, “The Letters”) or elsewhere.

And Fry’s current performance in the title role of Henrik Ibsen’s 1891 play, “Hedda Gabler,” may be her best yet. The tempestuous drama, translated from Norwegian by Nicholas Rudall, features a four-star cast under the keen direction of Kimberly Senior.

Hedda comes across as a cold, brutally calculating woman given to impulsive spur-of-the-moment decisions, one of which was to wed Jorgen Tesman (Sean Fortunato), who tries to put on a good face despite the chill that has settled over the marriage.

Returning from a six-month honeymoon, Hedda sees her spouse as a boring academic and blames their lack of common interests for her mounting distraction.

In her dissatisfaction, Hedda also turns a cold shoulder to Jorgen’s good-natured Aunt Julie (Barbara Figgins) and is quick to second-guess the maid, Berte (Kathleeh Ruhl).

Real trouble brews when an old romantic interest, charismatic bad-boy Lovborg (Mark L. Montgomery) with a history as a drunk, shows up harboring ambitions of becoming Hedda’s secret lover.

Apparently Lovborg has straightened himself out with the help of Elvsted (Chaon Cross), another disaffected local wife and one-time schoolmate of Hedda.

Lovborg’s recently published best-selling new book makes him a potential rival of Jorgen, who also is seeking an appointment to the same university professorship. Hedda finds herself in a quandary: Pursue Lovborg or remove him as a threat to Jorgen’s future success?

At the same time, Hedda is engaged in a power struggle with The Judge (Scott Parkinson), a rich and influential friend who is determined to become a third “silent partner” in the Tesman boudoir.

Ultimately, Hedda’s manipulations, however engaging, turn into a dangerous and deadly game.

If you go

What: “Hedda Gabler”

Where: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe

When: Through March 16

Tickets: $35-$70

Show information: (847) 242-6000

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