Theatre Review: ‘A Doll’s House’ at Duke of York’s Theatre

a doll's house

a doll's house - Credit: Archant

There is so much that is right about Carrie Cracknell’s production of A Doll’s House that it seems churlish to pick holes with Simon Stephens’ updating of the script

A Doll’s House Duke of York’s Theatre

****

There is so much that is right about Carrie Cracknell’s production of A Doll’s House that it seems churlish to pick holes with Simon Stephens’ updating of the script. Hattie Morahan as the feminist heroine, Nora, the doll-wife who reappraises her life and makes the chilling decision to abandon her husband and her three small children, is pitch perfect. Her turns of character from girlish confession to fearful outpourings, from manipulative and flirty to distracted and fearful, are beautiful to watch. It’s no wonder that after a successful run at The Old Vic, the Duke of York’s is staging the production for 12 weeks.

Everything about this production is high quality from the hair and costumes to the lighting, the sound and the performances. Ian Macneil’s set, a revolving house with a central corridor, exquisitely embodies the boxes in Norah’s mind and the sense of entrapment as the moment of truth comes closer.


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We live her fear as the lawyer Krogstad makes real his threat to expose her secret. The doll-wife is not as naïve as she appears. A debt incurred fraudulently to pay for her husband’s medical treatment, is to be her undoing.

What doesn’t sit so comfortably is the emphasis in this production. There’s no sense of Nora’s intellectual journey. As the doll-wife – the sweet, compliant, little bird who speaks in a breathy voice and flirts with every man in the room, she is highly believable but her intelligence appears more a function of native cunning than clear headed strategy. This colours the ending. Nora’s sudden change of heart, mind and behaviour appears more a response to extreme fear – fight or flight – than a Damascene revelation.

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As Torvald offers forgiveness and begs for the opportunity to start again, Nora’s flounce out feels more petulance than permanence; more EastEnders than Ibsen. One half expected her to come straight back.

Until October 26.

Shyama Perera

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