Printable CopyA DOLL’S HOUSE
IpSkip Productions
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 19 Jan 2019

Review by Jamie Wright

When it premiered, Ibsen’s late-19th century play was considered far ahead of its time; now, most of what shocked contemporary audiences would barely raise an eyebrow in today’s society – and yet there’s something at its heart that still resonates, and why there’s value in mounting a production such as this. Director Nathan Quadrio has brought the story forward to 1959, allowing the social conventions necessary to the story to be still relevant, but at the same time keeps it from being as far distant from the present as the original setting.

This particular version of the script was adapted by director Quadrio and Miriam Fietz, and they’ve made quite a few cuts; the running time (including interval) on opening night was just over two hours. This makes more a much more intense, focused version of events – but also results in there being a couple of times where the passage of time doesn’t feel quite right. But this is a minor issue, and is far outweighed by the many positives.

Matt Houston is great as Torvald, portraying him as clueless, paternalistic oaf that overlies an even less pleasant persona beneath – all the while maintaining a very British air of pompous civility. Anthony Vawser brings a wonderful air of menace as Krogstad – though there was a bit of unsurety over lines at one point. Dr Rank only makes a handful of appearances, but James McCluskey Garcia imbues the character with a morbid world-weariness befitting his situation. Georgia Stockham is superb as Christine, whose experiences prior to the events here would be worthy of its own story; her quiet determination is an excellent contrast to the more excitable characters around her.

At the heart of the story is, of course, Nora – and Allison Scharber is nothing short of exceptional in what is a very demanding and complex role. Scharber’s portrayal matches Nora’s gradual transformation at every point; she is both believable and compelling, whether it be in moments of silliness, desperation or steely resolve.

Congratulations to IpSkip for an excellent production of a play that is by no means easy to do well.