Henrik Ibsen threw the wildest party in Western drama, but his audience wasn’t invited—it takes place between the acts of Hedda Gabler, his 1890 tragedy. At the end of Act Two, the three men who desire the combustible and recently wed heroine set off to enjoy a drunken night out in honor of George Tesman, Hedda’s dull but upright new husband. By the time Act Three begins, reputations have been ruined, souls destroyed, and the only copy of a philosophical masterpiece gone missing.
Until now, what happened offstage stayed offstage. Brack’s Last Bachelor Party, a new play by Sam Marks directed by Geordie Broadwater for the Babel Theatre Project, imagines what thoughts and deeds might have transpired among Ibsen’s rivaling males in this debauched evening. Tesman (Josh Barrett) frets; Judge Brack (Alexander Alioto) and Eilert Lovborg (Michael Crane) booze and boast. It’s a fun idea—essentially a literary joke—which would have fared better had Marks mined Ibsen’s intricacies and rhythms more wittily. Instead, the gag grows repetitive and laborious, especially when Marks puts Tesman’s hallucinations of an unhappy future into literal form. When it comes to legendary bachelor parties, it’s better to leave the details to everyone’s imagination.