Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Review of Mauckingbird's lesbian Hedda Gabler

Mauckingbird Theatre was launched last year by Temple professor Peter Reynolds and recent grad Lindsay Mauck as a company “committed to producing professional gay-themed theater, while also exploring classic literature.” In each of its three productions so far, fulfilling that mission has meant transforming classic works into gay-themed theater.

Those who object to these literary transformations could argue that the genre already abounds in gay playwrights and plays with homosexual themes, so why tamper with familiar straight works? But in Mauckingbird’s case, the key question is whether or not the introduction of gay issues into any particular play is justified by what it adds artistically.

In Mauckingbird’s first two productions, this approach made sense. Mauckingbird’s all-male Misanthrope nicely illustrated a mirroring of court life extending into personal lives, creating the same hierarchal power structure and consequent viciousness in relationships required of those at court. And Mauckingbird’s production of Joe Calarco’s Shakespeare’s R & J transformed Romeo’s line, “Did I love till now?” into a powerful moment of personal discovery.

An unspoken problem

But unlike those first two works, Mauckingbird’s current lesbian-themed adaptation (by Caroline Kava) of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler did little to create a different feel in the play. It’s merely a production of a famous play that, here, dares not speak its name.

To read the rest of this review, click here.

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