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Originally published Friday, September 15, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"We Go Way Back": Play within a movie is a crackup

Depression is the subject of the locally produced "We Go Way Back," yet the movie works best as a backstage comedy in the tradition of...

Special to The Seattle Times

Depression is the subject of the locally produced "We Go Way Back," yet the movie works best as a backstage comedy in the tradition of "Waiting for Guffman."

The 23-year-old heroine, Kate (Amber Hubert), is recovering from a breakup when she's given the title role in a Seattle theater production of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler." Yes, she's too young for the part and she's never tackled anything so challenging, but the director (local theater veteran Robert Hamilton Wright) has a hunch she can pull it off.

Movie review 2.5 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"We Go Way Back," with Amber Hubert, Robert Hamilton Wright. Written and directed by Lynn Shelton. 80 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (includes sex scenes). Varsity. Shelton will attend all evening screenings tonight through Sunday.

He is also convinced that she should learn Norwegian so she can speak in Ibsen's language (the other actors will speak English), and he guarantees that Hedda's husband will be seen as a mental midget by casting his pre-adolescent nephew in the part. He also entertains the idea that Kate's Hedda should walk on stilts.

After Kate is persuaded to bring piles of potatoes to the rehearsals — for reasons only the director understands — she starts to crack up. In one dreamlike episode, she runs off to the woods to find the potato farmer, the only nice man she meets. Along with her for the ride is her 13-year-old self (Maggie Brown), who questions her decisions in a series of letters.

Writer-director Lynn Shelton ("The Fruits of Our Labors") sees Kate as the kind of person who "expends enormous amounts of energy fulfilling the needs of everyone but herself," and her leading actresses do a lovely job of suggesting Kate's potential as well as her self-imposed limitations.

Still, the movie is most alive when it doesn't take the teen Kate/older Kate mix-up so seriously. The scenes of 20-something Kate in rehearsals, accommodating her deluded director and dealing with hormone-driven fellow actors, are consistently sharp and funny.

John Hartl:

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