A play which involves lies being built upon secrets in varying relationships, A Doll’s House accumulates to a moral revelation in which the leading actor transforms from a character comparable to a human doll to one that is cosmopolitan.
The play tells the story of Nora, a woman who illegally borrowed money in order to save her husband Torvald’s life. Her crime catches up with her over the Christmas period, as the man she borrowed money from – an employee of Torvald’s – reappears with the knowledge that she committed forgery. He blackmails her into convincing her husband to promote him, and all the niceties of domesticity begin to crumble as Torvald becomes closer and closer into uncovering the truth.
“The sound effects were all manual”
The set of A Doll’s House was certainly impressive; with white furniture stuck to the walls, it enabled a contrast in scenes from the purity of domestic life to scenes with the flashing lights of an array of colours when the audience are temporarily able to glimpse into the mind of Nora, who becomes increasingly burdened with stress and fear. The sound effects, particularly the use of pen on paper to build tension, were all manual, and the creativity of this was largely appreciated by the audience.
Opening scenes with the characters of Nora, played by Lucy Chandler, and Torvald, played by Daniel McVey display fantastic chemistry, and the delivery of their lines and tone of voice by the actors kept scenes that involved little movement or action stimulating. Furthermore, the comedic effect of the characters of Dr. Rank (Arthur McKechnie) and Torvald lightened the play brilliantly – a scene involving drunkenness particularly gave the audience the sensation that they were watching a play that delved into more than just one genre.
“Mr. Krogstad accurately played the part of a villain that should not be tested”
The impersonations of the child voices were very well carried out, they sounded realistic and the need for their mother’s attention and approval was carried through perfectly purely through use of voice. Director, Grace Lievesley, managed to contrast scenes with these children, involving music and a game to a scene of tension and unrest as Mr. Krogstad appears on stage. Mr. Krogstad, played by Eric Crouch, accurately played the part of a villain that should not be tested; his character’s timing of laughter during his scenes of intimidating Nora was eerie and unsettling, just as his character should be.
The play brilliantly depicts the sacrificial role of woman, which even today stands to be relevant which is portrayed in the use of iPhones and modern music, despite the fact that the play was originally set in the nineteenth century. We see the potential in Nora’s character to defy this role from the beginning. By Nora displaying her fearlessness through shouting to Kristine (Clair Wimbush) and taking the initiative to standing on the table kicking papers, we see the potential she has to break out and become her own person and realise her ‘responsibilities to [herself]’ – kudos to the imaginative direction there.
With Torvald’s constant use of pet names, we are clearly viewing a relationship in which Nora is treated like a child, and continuously compared to one throughout the play at that. In this, the underlying message that Nora is treated as a doll cannot be missed, and this message being translated clearly to the audience throughout the play resulted in the it being an outstanding success.
“[It] leaves the audience reflecting”
The outburst of Torvald is certainly unexpected, and his screams of rage linger in the air, leaving a deafening silence in the theatre. It is with this effect that we can see the true colours of Torvald’s character, and therefore understand the urgency for Nora to leave him behind in another life. An extremely controversial decision, Nora opts for the life of a ‘human being above anything else’, and leaves the audience reflecting on how conventional morality has impacted what humans consider to be responsibilities of everyday life.
Images courtesy of Nottingham New Theatre