Ibsen Endings Meant New Beginning for Gregg Allen

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Byline: Jack Helbig

There are not a lot of theater people who could take the last two minutes of every play by Henrik Ibsen and fashion a show that is fascinating, hilarious and wise. Maybe only one: Gregg Allen, creator of the long-running "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind."

Of course, Allen has made a career out of creating amazing shows from surprising material. Like when he used Freud's deadly serious tract "Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious" and transformed it into a marvelous, surprising, unpretentious evening.

But who would have predicted his show "The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen," which first ran in Chicago in January 2004 and opens Friday night in a limited run at the Northlight Theatre, would have as long a life as it has. Not Allen, who conceived the idea of the show after performing the last three minutes of Ibsen's seldom-performed "Little Eyolf" in "Too Much Light."

"I had first read the complete works of Ibsen way back in 1986," Allen said, "and I got really turned on by the obscure, late plays. And then when we performed the last three minutes of 'Little Eyolf,' I thought it would be fun to put all these endings together back to back.

"These are some of the greatest plays in world theater -'Hedda Gabler,' 'A Doll's House,' " he said. …