A DOLL’S HOUSE
by Henrik Ibsen English version by Simon Stephens from a literal translation by Charlotte Barslund.
Young Vic 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 4 August 2012 no performance 27 July.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 24 July.
Captioned 19 July.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 9 July.
Distinctive if not definitive.
This is a distinctive Doll’s House. But like any distinctive house, it can be the neighbourhood talking point without being the place you’d like to settle.
Adapter Simon Stephens and director Carrie Cracknell assert the Young Vic production’s individuality. When Hattie Morahan’s harassed Nora shouts at a surprised servant to look after the children because it’s what she’s paid to do, she can be seen as the contented banker’s wife, a bourgeoise revelling in her newly-promoted husband’s increased pay and power.
After two and a half acts’ pretences, the main characters sit to discuss things. Ibsen emphasises it’s a time for rational talk, but Cracknell goes full-pelt for a family row through most of the scene, signalling Nora’s independence, with Dominic Rowan’s Torvald finally evoking audience laughter. He’s done well to keep it back so long (and may do entirely on other nights).
Like Pastor Manders in Ibsen’s Ghosts, Torvald’s ideas now sound ridiculous. Yet if not taken seriously, the social and religious oppression of the women they affect is lessened. Rowan’s Torvald comes as close as any to the unfussy, if unthinking, sense the role needs.
Though the women are entombed in tight-fitting, full-length dresses, there’s an unassertive period sense to the furniture, while the acting style looks and sounds modern, and Morahan prefigures her last act self-realisation in her quick, improvising intelligence.
Ian McNeill’s design imposes a staircase beside the Helmer’s apartment. The pair descend it from the upstairs Christmas party, though other guests seem to have left via the roof. The spinning home itself emphasises their cramped yet separated existence.
There’s some beautiful counterpointing; Susannah Wise’s Kristine unfreezes emotionally, kissing Krogstad (Nick Fletcher, his flatness of speech pointing to both suffering and determination to recover some status) while Nora’s heard above, dancing her desperate tarantella as instructed by Torvald.
And the final crisis arrives straight after a moment of intimacy between Nora and Torvald. Nothing’s simple in this life, which may be why Nora’s temper finally flares. But she walks out confidently, leaving Torvald sitting puzzled on their bed; a suddenly lonely doll alone in his house.
Nils Krogstad: Nick Fletcher.
Helene: Yolanda Kettle.
Nora Helmer: Hattie Morahan.
Torvald Helmer: Dominic Rowan.
Doctor Rank: Steve Toussaint.
Anna: Lynne Verrall.
Kristine Linde: Susannah Wise.
Ivar Helmer: Vincent Curson-Smith/Arthur Gledhill Franks.
Jon Helmer: Jake Tuesley/Pip Pearce.
Emmy Helmer: Evie Sophia Beadle-Thomas/Harry Turner/Dorothea MacGibbon.
Director: Carrie Cracknell.
Designer: Ian McNeill.
Lighting: Guy Hoare.
Sound: David McSeveney.
Music: Stuart Earl.
Choreographer: Quinny Sacks.
Costume: Gabrielle Dalton.
Hair/Make-up: Campbell Young.
Voice: Emma Woodvine.