Brooklyn Academy of Music hosts the Young Vic’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House this spring in a production that hums along and builds to a rapturous conclusion. With a rotating set that exposes the subtext of the inner workings of the house, this version of A Doll’s House by Simon Stephens transforms a 19th relevant and heartbreaking.
Hattie Morahan’s Nora is bird-like and bent, flitting around to please her husband Torvald, played by Dominic Rowan. The sexual games that the two of them play highlight the imbalanced relationship. Nora is constantly afraid of being caught doing something wrong. As the play progresses the audience learns that this fear is justified by actions that she took to provide for her husband when he was ailing and needed to recuperate in Italy. When two people from her past come to the house to remind her of her actions, her fears are set in motion and she must try to outwit everyone before they find out that she isn’t as naïve as she lets on. The play is classic Ibsen, a study of domestic fears and secrets bubbling under the surface, but this production really highlights the contemporary elements and breathes life into a play that can feel stuffy on the page or in a lesser production.
Carrie Cracknell’s direction is exquisite. Each break between scenes teases out the subtext and provides a greater understanding of the relationships between the characters, but also the relationship between the characters and the rooms of the house. Nora’s room has a bed that seems too small for her, Torvald’s study is dark and cramped. The parlor and kitchen are open and luxurious looking. As the set spins, the characters spin through their lives, hoping for resolution, but not finding it where they hoped to.
A Doll’s House, like most of their British imports, is worth the trip to BAM, it might even have been worth the trip to London to see the original production.
THEATRE REVIEW by Kate Mulley