by Henrik Ibsen new adaptation by Bryony Lavery.

Royal Exchange Theatre St Ann’s Square M2 7DH To 1 June 2013.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 8pm Mat Wed 2.30pm & Sat 3.30pm.
Audio-described 25 May 3.30pm.
BSL Signed 28 May.
Captioned 23 May.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.

TICKETS: 0161 833 9833.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 11 May.

A rivetingly intelligent performance in a well-considered production.
Director Greg Hersov and Cush Jumbo’s Nora come close to resolving this play’s big challenge: how does a long-contented wife realise in seconds that she’s never really known herself – then articulate the matter in the time it takes to change her clothes?

And there’s the husband problem; Torvald often seems pompous and laughable long before the crisis-point. David Sturzaker is pleasant and unstuffy, almost casual at times. When he’s eventually laughed-at, it reinforces that Nora’s illumination has made his traditional views dustbin-of-history material.

Bryony Lavery’s new version helps, smoothing the rougher edges of contact with modern mindsets. Perhaps Sturzaker’s Torvald is less tragic-seeming than some. But his geniality has made the marriage seem probable from the start.

Others are skilfully played, Jamie de Courcey’s Dr Rank cut-back on his social views in this version, Jack Tarlton’s Krogstad not out to make trouble and seeming likely to recover his life with Kelly Hotten’s Kristina Linde. She looks washed-out by Nora’s side, but her kiss with Krogstad is the one moment of spontaneous love.

The script, Hersov’s swift production and the spareness of Helen Goddard’s set may glide over some of the play’s darker moments, but the light manner points-up that Nora and Torvald’s problems surface in a society where everyone else (including Nora’s dad) have had their problems. Whether or not a world is destroyed, certainly a bubble is burst.

Central is Jumbo’s spirited Nora, her life built on trust; she prevented tragedy years ago and believes in her husband, a belief that continues even during Torvald’s rage upon discovering the truth that endangers him. Jumbo gives reality to Nora’s suicidal determination as part of her principled behaviour.

Only when he calls her noble intentions useless does shock surge through her. And the investment Jumbo has put into Nora’s seriousness – including her need to confide in her friend how she suffered to save her husband – helps explain how she can articulate things so soon, while her anger on the famous line about women disregarding their honour for their menfolk resonates with her own experience, suddenly plugged-into a new view of history.

Nora Helmer: Cush Jumbo.
Helene: Amy Cameron.
Torvald Helmer: David Sturzaker.
Mrs Linde: Kelly Hotten.
Krogstad: Jack Tarlton.
Dr Rank: Jamie de Courcey.
Anne-Marie: Tessa Bell-Briggs.
Ivar: Joel Danziger/Matthew Allen/Peter Dine.
Bob: Raffi Day/Alfie Moulson/McKenzie Kai Clarke.
Emmy: Lily Blossom Tait/Caitlin Fraine/Shenara McGuire.

Director: Greg Hersov.
Designer: Helen Goddard.
Lighting: Richard Howell.
Sound: Emma Laxton.
Movement: Coral Messam.
Assistant director: Holly Race Roughan.

2013-05-12 12:46:36

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