Review: A Doll's House
Adam Cook’s adaptation of A Doll’s House brings back the bustle.
Well, it has been somewhat absent in the presentations of classic work in recent years. Still this is no worthy remount. Instead it is smart and sharp and even if you know exactly what’s going to happen, your imagination will be stoked by this tale of a woman driven to walk out on her husband and children, slamming the door behind her. And don’t worry; this is Ibsen’s play, at least, how he wrote it.
This “Doll” has a glorious Nora. Matilda Ridgway delivers a star turn and wears the poof of fabric with aplomb. Her middle-class Norwegian wife and mother, with her wisp thin waist and supple voice, is a revelation. She perfectly embodies the flighty poppet imprisoned by sex and money. This Nora is also deliberately manipulative and it is very entertaining to watch her flutter about, adjusting her behaviour to match what people expect of her.
These people include her husband, Torvald (Douglas Hansell) who makes for a sexy, if stifling, spouse. Then there is the always excellent Anthony Gooley as the antagonistic Krogstadt. He is so much more than a simple villain and Gooley fills this broken man with empathy and heart. Francesca Savage, Barry French, Annie Byron and the scene stealing Blake brothers round out the cast.
Every one of the supporting performances further defines Nora and it is a credit to Cook how he expertly orchestrates his actors on the rectangular Reginald stage.
My only real gripe is the set. Hugh O’Connor’s design didn’t convey to me a “gilded cage”. I was distracted by the mismatched furnishings and when anyone entered and exited through one of the three doors I was acutely aware of the sheeted backdrop along the corridor. Then again, the opaque blue-lit wall, (lighting design by Gavin Swift), rendering characters mere shadows, is very effective in creating an impression of the unknown, brutal world beyond the home.
The tremendous thing about Cook’s production is that it reveals our common humanity. As much as it a triumph that a woman achieves her freedom in the end, it is also a tragedy that an essentially good man doesn’t understand his wife.
A Doll’s House, Sport For Jove at the Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre. Until 2 August. Bookings: 02 9351 7940 or www.seymourcentre.com