A Doll's House - Playhouse Theatre 1996

Wednesday, 27 November, 1996
Review by: 
Darren Dalglish

Directed by Anthony Page, The Doll's House tells the story of a child like woman (Nora) who forges her fathers signature on a contract for a loan she needs to save her husband's life. Nora gets the loan from an unscrupulous character without her husband knowing. However, when the husband is better and gets promotion to manager of a bank, he finds out that one of his employees has an unsavory past and sacks him. But the man he sacks is the man who loaned his wife the money some time ago. Therefore the man threatens Nora, that unless she could pursued her husband to give him back his job , he will tell him about the loan she taken out with him and the forging of the signature.

Considering this play was written last century by Henrik Ibsen , he must have had a hard time from people because of its feminist over tones. The play portrays the woman as child like, unable to think for herself, with the husband always trying to protect her. However in the end it turns out the other way round. She is the strong one and in deed the one who is keeping the family together and in fact protecting her husband. The play is thought provoking, cleverly written and so true in many ways today.

I have mixed feelings on the performance of Janet McTeer who plays Nora. Her giddiness was definitely over the top, which irritated me at times. I thought this needed to be toned down a little. But then it may not have been her fault, the director may have wanted her to be exactly like this. However besides this her performance was convincing and you felt for her frustration and torture.

Lasting 3 and half hours the play is far too long. It needed to be cut back to about 3 hours to give it a little more zest. There were, particularly the last half hour plenty of opportunities to cut some of the dialogue which at times babbled on without having much to say. Nether the less I did enjoy it overall, but it could have been better.



A round up of the popular press reviews  by Darren Dalglish

This production by Shared Experience has not received good notices from most of the popular press....THE TIMES says, "Teale's company, 'Shared Experience', specialises in performing classic work in boldly original ways: but occasionally it mistakes unnecessary elaboration for inventiveness. That's the case here." THE DAILY EXPRESS says, "While Paterson Joseph and Anne-Marie Duff, as husband and wife, give the lead parts plenty of wellie, they play to diminishing returns. It's a case of too much directional faffing about with the one author who won't tolerate it." THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "The company has become renowned over the past 25 years for its strong ensemble ethos and experimental daring. This is the first time one of its shows has struck me as being bludgeoned by that working method." He goes on to say, "After two and a half hours, you can practically hear the subtext screaming for mercy.." THE GUARDIAN says, "You can never completely destroy Ibsen's masterpiece. But Shared Experience's new production, directed by Polly Teale with Yvonne McDevitt, has a damn good try." TIME OUT says, " The only emotion Shared Experience inspire is exasperation with their unsubtlety." THE STAGE says that play makes for an irritating evening before the interval, but goes on to say "In the last great act, however, Polly Teale's production moves into top gear. " There was a positive review from NICHOLAS de JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD who said, "This remains an Ibsen experiment that grips and excites."

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