Friday, February 03, 2017

Huntington Theatre Company Presents "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen - A Vibrant New Translation

The current Huntington Theatre Company production of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House" must close this Sunday. Get there to see it if you can. The play, directed with clarity and strength by Melia Bensussen, features a vibrant new translation from the Norwegian by feminist Bryony Lavery. Although Ibsen claimed that he was not writing a feminist play, the themes of this controversial work have been embraced by feminists ever since the play opened in 1879. The heroine, Nora (Andrea Syglowski), goes through a journey from "female to human being." The culmination of that pilgrimage sees her leaving her home, her unhappy marriage and the children that it produced. Her independence has been hailed by some and condemned by others. Ms. Lavery's translation and adaptation of this classic play beings some 21st century sensibilities and language to the stage without betraying the underlying Ibsen framework and ethos.

As is most often the case with Huntington production, the production design aids and abets the telling of this compelling story. The flexible set designed by James Noone undergoes a transformation that echoes Nora's liberation. It is a stunning and effective design. Costumes by Michael Krass help to establish the identity of each character. Lighting by Dan Kotlowitz and Sound and Original Music by Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen enhance the effect of specific time and place.

Elise Rose Walker, Marinda Anderson, Gavin Daniel Walker as the Helmer children
Adrianne Krstansky as Anne-Marie
Huntington Theatre Company's production of A Doll's House

Directed by Melia Bensussen
playing through February 5, 2017
Avenue of the Arts/BU Theatre
© Photo: T. Charles Erickson
 Ms. Syglowski presents a complex and ever-changing Nora. Her initial presentation is that of a light and somewhat silly young wife, playful with her husband and a bit naughty in wanting to spend money on fancy clothes and amusing things. He scolds her as if she were a petulant child. Yet as the story progresses and we learn what actions she has secretly taken to protect her husband, she proves to be much stronger than we had been led to believe. In interacting with characters other than her domineering husband, she begins to develop a sense of herself and her potential independent identity. It is a powerful performance.

As Torvald, Sekou Laidlow is the very embodiment of masculine confidence and irreproachable rectitude. He is emotionally tone deaf to his wife's real needs, and is perplexed when she proclaims that she is leaving the home and abandoning their failed marriage.

Andrea Syglowski as Nora
Sekou Laidlow as Torvald
Huntington Theatre Company's production of A Doll's House

Directed by Melia Bensussen
Playing through February 5, 2017
Avenue of the Arts/BU Theatre.
© Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Marinda Anderson is a strong presence as Mrs. Linde, a recently widowed friend of Nora from their days as school girls together. She is in need of a job, and serves as a sounding board for Nora.

Jeremy Webb is effective as Dr. Rank, a family friend who frequently visits the Helmer household. He is secretly enamored of Nora, and is slowly dying. His slow death echos in the physical realm what is happening internally to Nora's marriage. Torvald is equally oblivious to both deaths happening before his eyes.

Nael Nacer is appropriately desperate as Krogstad, a man who lent money to Nora. He now hopes that in Torvald's new role as head of the bank where Krogstad works, he may be given a chance to recover from an early misdeed that has branded him. He makes demands on Nora to repay the loan. His demands precipitate a crisis that brings to the surface many of the smoldering tensions.

Adrianne Krstansky as Anne-Marie and Lizzie Milanovich as Helene are servants who run the household and care for the children, who are played by Zoe Adams Martin, Elise Rose Walker, and Gavin Daniel Walker.

The plays remains timely and thought-provoking. It runs through this Sunday, February 5th.

Huntington Theatre Website




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