A new production of a difficult Ibsen classic helps with the play's slippery heroine

What About My Needs: Hilda (Lauren Grace) and Solness (James Carpenter).
David Allen
What About My Needs: Hilda (Lauren Grace) and Solness (James Carpenter).


Through March 5

Tickets are $38

(510) 843-4822

Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley

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In my attempt to get a handle on Hilda, perhaps I've gone too far with my interpretation of her relationship with Solness. For if Hilda is nothing more than a manifestation of the architect's deepest desires, then is that to say that the whole play happens in Solness' head? (Freud did count The Master Builder among his favorite works for the stage, but a purely psychoanalytical reading may be a little over the top.) Director Barbara Oliver's production is well balanced and sensitively acted -- an eloquent exploration of weighty Ibsenite themes such as the opposition of will and luck and the tension between youth and age. John Iacovelli's set, with its antique furnishings arranged at awkward angles to the crisp, modern lines of the architectural plan covering the back wall and floor, creates a visual metaphor for the dissonance between the young and the old. Yet for all the thought that's gone into the production, Hilda eludes me. I can frame the character any way I like, but still she remains a strange bird.

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