Sunday, March 19, 2006

An Actress Upstaging Her Talent and Ibsen - New York Times:

This quixotic idea arose after a recent visit to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where I witnessed Cate Blanchett and the Sydney Theater Company merrily desecrate Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" before an audience that didn't seem to notice (or care) that a classic play was being publicly kneecapped.

On the strength of Ms. Blanchett's film-derived fame, the monthlong run of the production is entirely sold out. Forlorn-looking youngsters are lining up for returns at every performance. The audience buzzes with anticipation before the lights go down and rises to its feet with delight when the famous gunshot brings Hedda's torment to an end. They are obviously happy to play their ordained role in this event, which is less a serious interpretation of a classic text than a public encounter with a real live movie star.

Avid theatergoers who have not managed to obtain a ticket shouldn't lose any sleep. What they're missing is Ibsen transformed into a three-ring circus, with Ms. Blanchett presiding in the center ring, giving a performance that would be merely silly and self-indulgent if it were not also scandalous.

12:43 PM