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Ibsen at his best

PUBLISHED: 10:53 04 September 2009 | UPDATED: 13:06 11 August 2010

WHEN Ibsen s powerful play, A Doll s House, first took to the stage in 1879, it created a massive scandal. This well-acted, small-budget production by theatre company Candy King recreates the story about a woman s hidden sacrifice to her husband, about f

WHEN Ibsen's powerful play, A Doll's House, first took to the stage in 1879, it created a massive scandal.

This well-acted, small-budget production by theatre company Candy King recreates the story about a woman's hidden sacrifice to her husband, about fraud, blackmail and emancipation, while it skilfully translates the original drama's strong condemnation of nineteenth century middle class societal norms.

Nora Helmer is the pretty, entertaining housewife, who is keeping up appearances.

Her husband, Torvald (Brett Harris) treats her as a silly child, but she plays along gleefully, because it helps hide her heroic little secret.

Having borrowed a large amount of money from the disgraced lawyer Nils Krogstad (Ross Finbow) after committing identity fraud, she managed to pay for a life-saving holiday to Italy, when her husband was critically ill.

When Krogstad threatens to reveal her secret - and her crime - to Torvald and to society, Nora's desperation is almost tangible.

Kate Dion-Richards as Nora infects the audience with her enduring nervousness and hysteria, as she struggles to keep her husband's reputation intact.

She equally masters to convey Nora's dignity and brevity in stark contrast to the selfish Torvald, in the second act.

Sarah Northgraves as Nora's friend Christine Linde is the troubled wife's moral anchor and offers her sisterly support just when it is needed most.

Ross Finbow as Krogstad avoids the clichéd portrayal of villain by adding an emotional depth to his character, ranging from embitterment and rage to compassion and love.

When the secret is finally out, the tables turn, and Nora defies the men who have kept her in her place - like a doll in a doll's house.

She finally rejects her role of undervalued accessory to a husband and chooses to stand on her own two feet.

The play still strikes a chord today as many women's sacrifices in terms of child rearing, unpaid care work for relatives and in the job market are taken for granted.

Every minute of the two-hour production has been captivating without ever drifting into the farcical terrain of the melodrama.

A Doll's House is playing at the Greenwich Playhouse until September 13. Tickets cost £12, concession £10.


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