A Doll's House
13th October 2014
CAST: Nora Helmer, Felicity Rhys, Torvald Helmer,
Adam Redmayne, Kristine Linde/Anne-Marie, Laura-Kate Gordon, Dr Rank/Nils
Krogstad/Porter, Christopher Llewellyn
Director Michael Westwood is taking this new UK Touring Theatre production
across the length and breadth of the country and if tonight's packed house
is anything to go by it will do very well.
Ibsen's play has lost none of it's power to invoke strong emotions since
it's premiere in 1878. Love and compassion are severely tested as morality,
class barriers, social mores and the conventional constraints of wedlock
are worn down by a female's enlightened realisation that things don't
have to be that way.
As the play opens domestic goddess, Nora, could not be more happy in
her gilded cage. Married to barrister,Torvald Helmer, who is soon to be
promoted to the position of bank manager, she has a big house and three
children from their eight years together.
The children are never seen and, presumably, in the care of maid Anne-Marie.
The future is looking rosy but it was not always this way however. There
is a skeleton in the cupboard that will see irrevocable change to the
spouses situation, which also impacts on the lives of rest of the characters
in the story.
As the play opens a knock on the door heralds old family acquaintance
Dr Rank, making one of his many social calls.
Then, in desperation Kristine, an old friend of Nora, turns up having
nowhere else to go; meanwhile Torvald is in the process of sacking dishonest
solicitor Krogstad and the die is cast.
The past comes back to haunt Nora in the shape of Krogstad, who had arranged
a loan for medical treatment to save her husband's life, and her fraudulently
signed I.O.U. is still outstanding.
The situation begins to unravel as she tries to help out her friend and
get Krogstad off her back, resulting in the Chistmas festive season being
shattered. An uncomprehending, domineering and repressive Torvald adds
to the psychological torture welling inside his wife.
In trying to put off the inevitable Nora only succeeds in ratcheting
up the tension. Her dance scene is comic and grotesque at the same time.
Then Kronstad's missive drops into the letter-box for which Torvald has
the only key.
Where will it all end?
The leads played their parts well, if a little straitlaced at times.
Some of the narrative produced a nervous tittering in the mostly youngish
crowd but it did not detract from the occasion.
Crin Claxton's lighting was subdued and redolent of the period, and Richard
Rudnicki's movable set was compact enough for the small cast to rearrange
as they went.
At over two hours long this production never wavered from what the playwright
intended, and the cast were enthusiastically received as the lights went
Comment left by Dave Musker on 23rd October, 2014 at 12:16
A tantalising review. Makes me wish I had attended.