Wednesday, March 11, 2009

POW! (Play Of The Week)

Does Hamlet play with his belly button? Does Ophelia hate math? Does Polonius like oatmeal and have a obsession with feet?

We all like to imagine what our favorite literary heroines and heroes do at night, when the books are closed, if and how they slip from between the rows of words and what they might do when not enslaved by authorial intent.

The latest playwright’s fantasia to venture into this realm is Jeff Whitty’s “The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler.” In it, the titular doomed lady awakes in her home with Tesman immediately after she’s shot herself; turns out, this happens a lot. Every time she kills herself, she winds up back in this sort of inescapable simulacrum of our world that’s populated only by other literary creations.

Naturally this purgatory is hell to Hedda, who only wanted to escape her ugly, claustrophobic life; accompanied by Mammy from “Gone With The Wind,” she heads out to the legendary Forge, the rumored fount of authorial creation, to find out what awaits on the other side. Undaunted by a basketcase Medea, some stereotypically flouncing queens, or a whole crowd of specialty Jesuses, Hedda enters the forge and emerges on the other side. And what she finds is -- happiness? Really? Hedda Gabler can be HAPPY?

“The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler” is a joy. It’s sharp, clever (but not cloying), and incredibly funny. It distends known characters to recognizably comic proportions while effectively landing them in a world with its own unique rules. It’s fantastical fun, wall to wall. And in the end, Hedda’s questioning may leave us with a better understanding of how we evolve, as creators and as people.

Cast: 4 M, 4 W, with doubling

Scenes/Monologues: Group scenes only, but great ones if you’re looking for comedic romping.

Recommended by: Matthew.