In Garbo's Footsteps

When Garbo talked, that goddess of the silents, the words of Eugene O’Neill’s sullen prostitute, Anna Christie, were the first she uttered. “Redolent of cardboard,” a Garbo-worshipper has written of the material. The tragedy is all scissors and paste, with a tacked-on happy ending.” All true enough. A sailor’s daughter brought up and abused on a Minnesota farm, Anna returns to the sea, where she finds redemption in her own flinty integrity and an honest man’s love. But apart from the brooding sea symbolism, the action might sound strangely contemporary, like a tale told on Oprah. No one is likelier to make it true to life than Natasha Richardson, the remarkable Vanessa Redgrave’s remarkable daughter, whose screen portrayal of Patty Hearst transformed the cardboard victim-turnedterrorist of the tabloids into a human enigma. Anna Christie, with the Roundabout Theater, marks her Broadway debut (December 23 to February 21,212-869-8400).