Pros: A good cast striving to unravel a dense, unforgiving script.
Cons: The stiff plot hasn’t worn particularly well over the years.
Based on the southern tip of the Isle of Dogs is The Space, a performing arts centre currently playing host to Dissolve Theatre’s production of A Doll’s House. Written by Henrik Ibsen, it tells the story of Nora and Torvald; a couple who, on the outside have everything they could possibly want; a wonderful home, beautiful children and now Torvald’s promotion at the bank. But their contented existence is threatened by Krogstad, an employee of the bank who shares a dreaded secret with Nora. Now, what she once did to save her husband might destroy them both. An old school friend of Nora, Christine Linde also returns following the death of her husband; while Dr Rank, a family friend, hovers in the background, secretly in love with Nora…
Ibsen’s drama poses the question: what, if anything, actually binds us to the people in our lives? Moreover, it explores the concept of duty, independence and identity. Whilst this may have may have been the intention, the play cannot escape the shackles of a 19th Century time capsule, and its dated prose fails to explore the theme in any real detail. The cast do a good job with tools at their disposal, but the characters are dull and one dimensional; I found it difficult to sympathise or care about them on any level. The script is pedestrian and the plot lacklustre. The climax was signposted in the first 20 minutes and adds little to the sum of human knowledge.
The play is very much a product of its time and does no more than state the 19th Century norm; that a woman raised the children, kept the home and obeyed her husband’s wishes. I don’t doubt the subject matter would have caused a sensation when Ibsen penned the play; but in the 21st Century it barely merits a footnote in sociological terms. The cast were however, stoical in their interpretation; Greta Gould as Nora and Johan Hallstom as Torvald were convincing as the couple at war; Rachel Handshaw as Christine and Jason McKell as Rank offered solid support; while Jack Hudson stole the show as the duplicitous Krogstad.
Author: Henrik Ibsen
Director: Chloe Mashiter
Producer: Dissolve Theatre
Box Office: 020 7515 7799
Booking link: https://space.org.uk/event-booking/?event=adollshouse2
Booking until: 13 June 2015