Thursday, 23 November 2017

“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen
Nottingham New Theatre
The play is originally set in a Norwegian town circa 1879 and deals with the fate of a married woman, who at the time lacked "reasonable opportunities for self-fulfillment" in a male dominated world. At the time it caused a “storm of outraged controversy” that went beyond the theatre to the world newspapers and society, over a hundred years ago.
Considered one of the first proto-feminist plays and daring to depict marriage in a critical manner, it is famous for its realism and close psychological attention to main character Nora, the wife trapped within a domestic ‘doll’s house’.
Ibsen’s classic is brought to life again by Simon Stephens, in this reminder of the need for honesty and spiritual liberation. Will the cracks in the Helmer’s marriage heal or do they already run too deep?
This may have been a shock to the system 100 years ago, but today I felt that it said nothing new. OK I realise that there are still families like this still around today but the story itself seemed dated.
That said, I loved what these students did with Ibsen's play and loved the characterisations, which was anything but dated.
Director Grace Lievesley, in her debut as a Director for NNT, had brought the action into the 1980's and the soundtrack reflected this with some well chosen 80's Christmas classics.A worthy and fun debut.
In many "classic" plays the cast add nothing to the story, this was the opposite as the cast, for me, made the play interesting and gave a freshness to the plots.
Lucy Chandler (Nora) and Daniel Mcvey (Torvald), the married couple while presenting the seriousness of the story, made it great fun, and I had to smile as they came back from their fancy dress party as John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from "Grease". Lucy makes her NNT debut in this role.
Claire Wimbush (Kristine), the old family friend who was once involved with Krogstad, played with a real sense of calm menace and under-played manic by Eric Couch, just waiting to erupt.
Arthur Mckechnie (Dr Rank) is a natural and very comfortable to watch.and I love the suit!.
Isabelle Cadwallader (Anna) plays the put upon nurse who look after the two children, Jon and Iver, played by Etan Feingold, another NNT first timer and Jess Donn, respectively. They also created some interesting sound effects as well.
Finally Laura Wolczyk (Helene) as the Helmer's housemaid.
The production crew and technical crew is possibly one of the biggest I've seen at fourteen, but you can see the work that has been put into this production.
I must mention especially Joe Strickland who designed the set, which was an absolute work of art. Very clever and well designed and I loved it.
“A Doll’s House” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 25 November 2017 and is well worth a watch.

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