Theater: Hedda Gabler

By Henrik Ibsen

Her lost love is a self-destructive genius. Her new husband is a fussbudget academic. Caught between them, Annette Bening's tragic heroine suffers a kind of influenza of the soul--fevers and chills alternating while she tries to maintain her politesse in provincial society. This is risky work for a movie star, but Bening's understated tension is admirable, and so is Jon Robin Baitz's new adaptation, touching Ibsen's glum dramaturgy with rueful Chekovian absurdity. Daniel Sullivan's brisk production, running through mid-April at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse, is full of lively performances bobbing eccentrically along on the play's tragic undertow, which is no longer...

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