Underlining the universality of Ibsen's themes, Wagar's text, which resets the story in 1955 New York, feels like a seamless reinvention of this gripping yarn. Granata's delicious characterization of Hedda as a fashion-plate ice princess prone to bitchy putdowns is riveting, and Guilbeau is appropriately wimpy as her innocuous husband. Shanti Bowes offers a creditable depiction of another type of woman—a hysterical bundle of emotional fragility—as Lovborg's current fling, Thea. Hamra is superb as the recovered alcoholic who's a professional rival to Tesman. Peter Colburn excels as dastardly Judge Brack, whose blackmail tactics pose a formidable challenge for Hedda. JoAnna Jocelyn's characterization as kindly Aunt Julia feels too mannered, and Simone Gad's exaggerated emoting in the supporting role of neurotic servant Berta comes across as distracting.
Christina Silvoso's smart and finely detailed set and Theodoricus' stylish costumes are impressive.
Presented by the Ark Theatre at the Hayworth, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. June 12–July 11. Thu.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (323) 969-1707 or www.arktheatre.org.