Leave it to that perversely insightful Hedda Gabler to put her finger on what ails the new production of the play that bears her name. In the second act of this unhappy revival of Ibsen's 1890 drama, which opened Sunday night at the American Airlines Theater, Hedda (Mary-Louise Parker) admits she possesses a talent for only one thing: "Feeling dead." By that time no one is going to argue with her.
"Eureka!" I thought when Ms. Parker delivered those words, as she had so many others, in a voice you could iron shirts on. "That explains everything."
How wise of Christopher Shinn, who did this new adaptation of Ibsen's oft-produced ode to the frustrations of modern womanhood, to substitute "feeling dead" for the more traditional "boring myself to death." That affectless, amateurish acting I'd been seeing onstage, with its flat-line readings and saggy pauses, was all in the name of creating the illusion of people already dead.