by Michael Meigs
Austin's youngish Palindrome Theatre is on its way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to perform their new, 90-minute non-stop Hedda Gabler every afternoon from August 5 to 29, except for Wednesdays. Outside those office hours the six-member cast and associates will be free to immerse themselves in the largest international arts event around, now in its 74th year. Last year, for example, Edinburgh offered 2,453 different shows staging 40,254 performances by 21,148 performers in 259 venues.
That's a theatre artist's dream, but it doesn't come cheap. Artistic directors Nigel O'Hearn and Kate Eminger have raised all but about $3000 of the costs, including travel, staging costs and artists' compensation. The company is making a last push this weekend in Austin, staging the export version at the Salvage Vanguard Theatre Thursday - Saturday, July 28 - 30. You can purchase your $25 fundraiser ticket on-line at their website.
Palindrome staged O'Hearn's first reworking of Ibsen's piece in February and March at the Blue Theatre and received positive reviews from ALTcom and others. The ALT review provides links to pieces by Robert Faires of the Austin Chronicle and by Ryan E. Johnson at examiner.com. Preparing to write this article, I discovered that Palindrome had put together a two-minute video promo featuring a key scene and several "pull quotes," including my own comment, "Robin Grace Thompson gives us a Hedda who is burning with psychic energy. She is deliberate and wicked." (Click to view the video at Vimeo.com.)
Attending a rehearsal of the export version of Hedda Gabler last week, I found a piece recrafted both by O'Hearn and by the ensemble, retaining the strong central core of Thompson as Hedda and Chase Crossno as Thea, the runaway wife who follows Hedda's former lover. Jacqueline Harper plays the servant Berthe, a role considerably strengthened. Nathan Osborn, who played the dissolute, desperate Einar Lövberg, has now assumed the role of George Tesman, Hedda's husband of six months.