A Doll’s House is a domestic drama which shows Nora Helmer (wonderfully played by Leila Crerar) breaking away from her role as an obedient wife and mother and discovering her own identity. At the beginning of the play Nora lives her life like a doll. She loves to play house, dressing up for her husband and playing games with her children. She dutifully complies with her husband’s demands and wishes, and never thinks for herself. She was portrayed as childlike and excitable by Crerar, playing up to the often patronising way her husband Torvald spoke to her, who constantly uses bird metaphors to describe her. However, a man from Nora’s past called Krogstad appears and she begins to realise that she is going to have to take responsibility for her actions.
This was the first Ibsen play that I had seen and overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. One stand out moment in the writing for me was between Torvald and Nora in the final scene:
“Before all else you are a wife and mother”
“I think before all else I am a human being”
This is a play about self-identity, and I would argue although here the focus is clearly on a woman maintaining her own identity while also being a wife and mother, it is still relevant to everyone, not only women. It is hard to know at times in the play who is more frustrating, Torvald, for insisting that Nora keeps playing her role, or Nora, for obeying. By the final scene however, our support lies with Nora when she finally stands up to Torvald and announces that she’s leaving.
I felt this was a strong production, and as previously mentioned I thought Leila Crerar was fantastic in the lead role. I felt some of the other actors were a little wooden at times, (Torvald and Krogstad) but only slightly and this did not hinder the performance. One small criticism I would have is I felt there was no need for 2 intervals – although the second was shorter, I felt if they wanted a small pause it would have worked better maybe to just bring the lights up for a few minutes, rather than allow people to leave the auditorium.
Overall, this was a strong production of an important play, and it has made me want to see more Ibsen plays being performed.