‘Hedda Gabler’ Is An Indy Theatre Season Standout

November 16, 2023

L-R Morgan Morton & Clay Mabbitt

It is fortunate that Chris Saunders, artistic director and founder of American Lives Theatre alerted me about a production of “Hedda Gabler, which he directed. Otherwise, I would have missed seeing the closing performance of the play Sunday at Theatre at the Fort in Lawrence. It would have been a regrettable loss had I missed it because the production was one of the best I have seen, thus far, in the current Indy theatre season.

Written by Henrik Ibsen, the version of “Hedda Gabler,” presented by Bardfest, was a fast paced, contemporized adaptation by Jon Roberts Batz. The play follows the life of Hedda Tessman, a general’s daughter who is married to an academic, George Tesman, whom she considers tedious. Despondent and bored with her marriage and her home, she attempts to manipulate the fate of her former lover Eilert Lovberg who is her husband’s rival. Hedda’s machinations lead to tragedy results for her and others.

Under the adroit direction of Saunders. the production was special for the quality of its acting performances, all of which were uniformly splendid. Included in the cast was Morgan Morton (Hedda), Joe Wagner (George), Matt Kraft (Eilert), Anna Himes (Thea), Clay Mabbitt (Judge Brack), Susan Hill (Miss Julia), and Carrie Reiberg (Berta).

Matt Kraft

Standing out for their nuanced and multi-faceted characterizations were Morton as spoiled, neurotic, self-absorbed Hedda, Kraft as tortured, alcoholic Eilert and Mabbitt as villainous and unscrupulous Judge Brack. The sexual assault scenes between Morton and Mabbitt, though deeply disturbing, were effective as was Kraft’s depiction of Eilert’s emotional unraveling. Saunders is to be commended for his adroit and thoughtful direction of the gifted actors in this ensemble.

I was particularly impressed with the show’s overall production design. Capturing my full attention throughout were the innovative costumes of Anthony James Sirk, a designer whom I consider one of Indy’s finest.

Speaking of local artists, I admire greatly; Saunders falls into that category. Proving himself not only a first-rate artistic director through his ALT company, he also distinguished himself as an accomplished director with this inspired and fresh new look at the classic “Hedda Gabler.”







photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

  • Creation, content, and publishing: Tom Alvarez
  • Graphic design:- Casey Ross
  • Web development: Clay Mabbitt

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