Review: A Doll's House @Sherman Cymru
A Doll's House
Tuesday 13th October 2015
*Spoilers as always*
Although a ropey version of Romeo and Juliet remained from last year, Rachel O'Riordan is quickly engulfing the theatre world of Cardiff with her important presence at Sherman Cymru.Tackling a more traditional staging of Ibsen's Norwegian play, this production is worthy of much praise. We simply need to see more Ibsen in Cardiff.
This is a work which caused waves at its first performance in Copenhagen. It is near Christmas and Nora is content with all things. Her husband, Torvald has been promoted to bank manager, meaning they won't have to worry about money anymore. Cue in Krogstag, a man from Nora's past. Through blackmail and bullying, she could lose everything as long as he can keep his job in the same bank. Through the help of an old friend, Kristine, female self-worth lingers and explodes at the conclusion of this well known, Scandinavian masterpiece.
In a tour de force portrayal, Leila Crerar is all girlish charm, lowering her voice in giddy excitement as Nora. The frenzied moments of anxiety are highlighted with swift lighting changes. As she looses her rag and speaks the thoughts in her head, as the worrying outcome of each advance in the story takes action. Alex Blake is the loving Torvald, but together they still feel like an odd couple. He becomes easily flustered and has the duty of keeping everything together. Robert Veron has dark menace as Krogstad, but is in dire need of improving the delivery of several lines of dialogue.
As Doctor Rank, Paul McEwan is insightful in his portrayal as a professional friend of the family, who had harboured feelings for Nora all this time. It remains heart breaking to see his lingering?acknowledgments to Nora, after her lighting him cigar or just before his leaving. It all comes at the worst possible time.
Kelly Williams arrived on stage in a huge black cloak as Kristine, a highly dramatic entry for a supporting character. Her relationships with Nora is redeveloped after years of not visiting one another. Kristine drops in and out of the plot, but she finally resolves the story, with its unexpected outcome. As the help, Francine Morgan is Anna, a nanny who is into deep with Nora's antics. Meg Lewis as Helene is too gentle a presence to have much impact as a maid, with very little voice projection.
The staging by Kenny Miller is also grand, in its cupboards (stacked high with dinner plates), grand piano and slender doors. With greenish-grey and duck shell colours, the mood is usually somber, till Nora's brief meltdown moments. Hats off to Kevin Treacy for these moody lighting decisions.
The story can be said to lead to feminist ideals and the actions of women as wives/mothers contradicting the idea of the family unit. It is rather the freedom of choice and self discovery in all of us, not just a middle class lady in Norway in the late 19th century. That is the play's point.
Rating: 4 stars
A Doll's House continues at Sherman Cymru till 24th October 2015.
Note from Weeping Tudor: "Like my namesake, a brand new theatre company is to be born. Weeping Tudor Productions shall stage rare, new and LGBT+ works. You can donate here via Kickstarter for our inaugural piece, Medusa's Trap by Erik Satie. Find out more in my article on theSprout here."
Image by: Burning Red