A DOLL’S HOUSE
by Henrik Ibsen in a version by Frank McGuinness.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Emlyn Williams Theatre) CH7 1YA To 31 March.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Sat Mat 2.45pm.
Audio-described 22 March.
Captioned 24 March 2.45pm.
Post-show Discussion 2, 29 March.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3565.
then Sherman Cymru Senghennydd Road CF24 4YE Cardiff
3-6 April 2012.
7.30pm Mat Wed 1.30pm.
TICKETS: 029 2064 6900.
Runs 2hr 40min Two intervals.
Review: Timothy Ramsden.
Clear, unfussy production.
Last spring the Emlyn Williams Theatre, set in-the-round, became a dark constricted room for an oppressive story of late Victorian husband and wife. This year it’s in-the-round again for another story of oppressive late 19th-century marriage. But this time the space seems immense, if cold in its light colours – it is Norway this time.
And if Kate Wasserberg, director of 2011’s splendid Gaslight has been replaced by Emma Lucia for this fresh-minted Ibsen, the comparison is aided by the presence of Simon Dutton as both husbands. Caryl Morgan is this year’s wife, seen first in full family happiness, bringing in the Christmas tree that colours the room, her happy daughter running around, and smiling servant Anne-Marie.
Nora’s development towards a new individuality – including a last-act development in which she seems to acquire a new consciousness in five minutes – is well-charted, slowly slipping from chirpy security to increasingly agitated isolation in her home. As she finally steps into the night alone, her daughter comes drowsily on, woken from her sleep.
For a moment it seems Lucia might go for Ibsen’s ‘alternative’ end – Nora staying in the family for her children’s sake. But Emmy’s appearance only emphasises how determinedly Nora leaves. Yet the central problem’s not quite overcome – how does Nora draw all her resources so swiftly together?
The surrounds are beautifully etched. John Cording’s Dr Rank has a warmth that contains the character’s harsher aspects, while Catrin Aaron’s Kristine enters looking shockingly pasty-faced against her black clothes, indicating the tough life that’s given her a maturity and composure learned through compromise since the two were children together.
Llion Williams’ Krogstad matches her in the sense of vicissitudes faced. But it’s Simon Dutton’s Torvald that distinguishes the production, his silver-haired maturity making him appear a second father as much as husband to Nora – and someone for whom financial ease comes quite late, lessening the sense of complacency. And his mix of suavity and smiles means he can express Torvald’s views of a husband’s authority without the laughs with which modern audiences unbalance the assurance against which Nora must mentally battle.
Kristine Linde: Catrin Aaron.
Dr Rank: John Cording.
Torvald Helmer: Simon Dutton.
Anne-Marie: Vivienne Moore.
Nora Helmer: Caryl Morgan.
Nils Krogstad: Llion Williams.
Emmy: Emma Islip/Christen Daniels Peralta/Anna Pydiah.
Director: Emma Lucia.
Designer: Max Jones.
Lighting: Nick Beadle.
Sound: Dan Armishaw.
Choreographer: Rachel Catherall.