It has been at least 6 years since I read A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, and when I knew it was live in London, I was more than excited to see how it would be portrayed on stage and how the characters I imagined in my mind would come to life right in front of me. I can tell you the drama lived up to my expectations, I was not disappointed!
It’s Christmas time in the Helmer household and our main character, Nora, played by Hattie Morahan, bursts onto the stage as excited and happy as one could be at this time of year, as she is busy preparing for the festivities. All seems well until we learn of the Helmer family’s past and how Nora has deep dark secrets of her own, which could tear her family apart.
Nora’s husband Torvald, played by Dominic Rowan, is a controlling yet head strong character who clearly adores Nora, calling her his little bird and skylark. “You’re my most treasured possession!” he exclaims to Nora after having one to many glasses of wine one night. this is the moment in the second half that we were all waiting for, when we start to see something change in Nora and she makes a decision that will change her life forever.
The first act lasted a long hour and a half, as each scene was lengthy, but important to the story as Nora’s worries escalated into panic by the time the interval was upon us. It left us wanting to know what she would do next, wondering if she could solve her problems before everyone knew her secret. The cast worked well together, and the portrayals of Dr Rank and Mrs Linde were exceptionally good.
Hattie Morahan shines as Nora, playing a challenging and unusual character to convey. It was no surprise to hear that she had won Best Actress at the 2013 Evening Standard Theatre awards. Her energy and strength throughout the performance are at a high and we are drawn into her characters story, willing her to find a solution.
From what I do remember of the play, the character of Krogstad was an intimidating and frightening man who should make you tremble in your seat as if it is you who is in trouble. But sadly, during this performance I didn’t once feel scared by his presence and as terrified as Nora was by his threats, I often thought if she raised her voice a little that he would withdraw and back down. Not the villain I quite imagined.
It is believed that Ibsen was inspired by the thought that “a woman cannot be herself in modern society” as at the time the play was set, men made the laws and were seen to rule society in general. This play is beautifully directed and we are shown that despite what was said, one woman, against all the odds, stood up, ignored what society said and made her own way in life.