Critic's Corner

By The Editors / January / February 2002
July 1st, 2007

"It's like I'm finally grown up," Kate Burton '79 told Variety last October. Since the actress took on the role of Hedda Gabler at Long Island's Bay Street Theatre a year and a half ago, critics have been watching with an eye to posterity. Is this the moment, they seem to be asking, when a star is born? The production, with its hip, modern translation of Ibsen's classic, traveled to the Williamstown (Massachusetts) Theatre Festival, to Boston's Huntington Theatre, and now to Broadway's Ambassador Theatre. The staging, and the actress, have been alternately praised and panned for demystifying Ibsen's UrЭmad housewife. Ben Brantley, reviewing the Boston production for the New York Times, said Burton was "giving one of those rare benchmark performances that redefine both a classic character and an actress." For Newsday, Linda Winer wrote: "She refuses to compromise Hedda's desperate ruthlessness with bits of sympathetic business. This is a woman animated with emotional complexity, hairpin turns of neurosis and a palpable sense of the woman she might have been in a life of possibilities." Burton's "newly brash, earthy Hedda," wrote Elysa Gardner in USA Today, "adds new intrigue to one of the most complex and provocative roles ever written." And in an otherwise pallid UPI review Frederick M. Winship said, "Burton turns in a performance as a cruelly destructive, frigid femme fatale that demonstrates her ability to get inside a role and live her character. She is an intelligent actress, and if the right roles come her way in the future, she may yet become one of the great ladies of the American theater."

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January / February 2002