By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated October 19, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Between Hedda Gabler and August Strindberg’s 1900 sketch of domestic hell, Broadway is home these days to chilly Scandinavian scenes of marital winter — and heated acting. Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren star as an old military captain and his wife, bound together in mind games on an island off the coast of Sweden a century ago. The relationship between Edgar and Alice, balanced on a knife-edge sharpened 62 years before Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is thrown dangerously off balance by the arrival of Alice’s cousin. When the shouting’s over, Edgar and Alice are still there, bickering like Beckett stalwarts, in this claustrophobic play.

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