Theater: Gabler by Bergman

As the lights go down, the audience at London's Cambridge Theater looks up expecting to see the familiar opening scene of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler —Hedda's new husband nattering away with his auntie. Instead, in a startling departure from the script, Maggie Smith as Hedda strides silently onto the empty stage. Clad severely in white, she is pale and tense, her features a mask of mortal exhaustion and despair that might have been painted by Edvard Munch. She smokes, paces, contemplates herself in a mirror, stares moodily, doubles over in a spasm of nausea. All of the contradictory qualities that are to...

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