Sunday, March 26, 2006

Something from Down Under

I really like Ken Mandelbaum, genuinely, and yet I never understand when he writes about things no one else can possibly see. Because why taunt people? But now I am going to do the same thing! So I get it (sort of)!

This blog is not so I can write reviews. Anyone who cares what I think of a given production, hears it from me directly... I began this just so I could write about industry things people ask me about--to save me repetitive talking time--or I think people should know.... And I am going to do a series of Tony posts in the next couple of weeks, which will get me back on track. But, for now, forgive me for detouring. I must write about a theatrical experience, that of Hedda Gabler at BAM, which I attended with my friend Kevin on Saturday. Sure the adaptation was banal and the direction misguided, but this was not a pedestrian production. This was designed around Cate Blanchett, who gave a performance so mesmerizing that I could have sat there watching her for eight more hours (though she surely would have passed out if there were even eight additional minutes).

Blanchett's performance is almost impossible to describe--she did about 46 different characters in the course of 2:30. She somehow managed to be part Kathleen Turner, part Nicolette Sheridan and part Katharine Hepburn. It is almost as if she decided to deliver a revue of different people she has observed/played. She also tackled someone and did a semi-swan dive. It was really the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Kevin and I of course lept to our feet afterwards, about 20 other audience members were similarly moved, the rest got guilted into standing after a while. (I cannot imagine why everyone wouldn't stand immediately--what else did they possible want her to do? Did they also want a little Teri Hatcher? Did they want some somersaults?) Kevin summed the whole thing up by saying: "It was a gay camp classic version of Hedda Gabler! I bet Heddatron [a recent robot-filled Hedda] wasn't this campy!"

Let me urge any readers of this blog, if this production is ever done again, go. You will not have a better time at the theater. Though, don't sit in the mezzanine. I don't think it would work from up there. (I had never been to BAM's Harvey before and I looked up at that very high mezz and felt the people there must be miserable...)

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