Ibsen’s pioneering play from 19th century Norway has been tampered with many times, sometimes with success, often not. But Bryony Lavery’s adaptation has replaced stilted words and phrases with flowing natural speech allowing Mary Papadima’s outstanding production to move swiftly to its intense conclusion. That conclusion may not, today, have the same impact as Ibsen intended but there are still invisible chains that prevent women from achieving their full human potential.
Augustina Seymour and Nicholas Goode in A Doll's House at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick Photo: Keith Pattison
The casting of this production is near perfect. Augustina Seymour takes Nora from the bubbling, bird-like child-woman through the hysterical fear that her secret will be discovered to the realisation that her fate is in her own hands without once losing our sympathy. This is a superb performance, matched by Nicholas Goode as her domineering husband, Helmer, as much a product of his up-bringing as Nora is - only when he shows his relief that the family name will not be tarnished with scandal do we see how shallow this man really is. Philip Rham, as the ailing Doctor Rank is particularly impressive when declaring his literally, dying love for Nora - as is Joannah Tincey’s sensitive performance as Nora’s childhood friend, Mrs Linde. Krogstad, the man holding the family to ransom, changes subtly from villain to misunderstood victim in James Duke’s reading of this character, and as the family’s housekeeper and nanny, Nicky Goldie gives an excellent supporting performance.
Set by Thomasin Marshall in an indefinite time and place, this production is impeccably conceived and acted in the Theatre’s Studio space. A ‘must see’.