Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Stef Smith’s new version of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.
The Observer: *** “While part of me wishes Smith felt able to write a new play rather than torquing her work to fit Ibsen’s tightly constructed plot, she does find creative, persuasive solutions.”
City AM: “There are moments that buck the trend, when you’re drawn into this tragic tale, especially when Nora’s life implodes and she realises the futility of her domestic situation. But then you realise those are the bits Ibsen wrote. In the end, the meagre pay-off isn’t nearly worth the effort of this elaborate reworking.”
The Stage: *** “While the play eloquently demonstrates that Nora’s story does not end when she steps through the door(s) – open rather than closed in Tom Piper’s set design – the coda feels heavy-handed, overstating a case the play has already made. What it does best is illustrate how change does not move in a straight line, nor benefit everyone.”
WhatsOnStage: *** “For all that I appreciate Nora, I feel at arms-length from it. At its best, it is orchestral and irresistible; a whirling rush of fury. But Elizabeth Freestone’s direction, though fleet-footed and fluid, often sags where it should feel taut. It is an admirable piece of work, one delivered with full-blooded conviction – but which never fully coalesces.”
A Younger Theatre: *** “The play takes a synchronic rather than a diachronic approach to history: the women are separated only by differentiating shades of burgundy, a tweaking of accents, and their choice of intoxication. Sugar, pills and whiskey, respectively. Rather than tracking progression, Nora denies the very concept of societal progress.”
Londonist: **** “The piece is bursting with imagery, relying on the actors to do most of the work. The three Noras move in synch, mirroring gestures and speaking in chorus. Completing one another’s sentences, the writing is rhythmic and often poetic.”
The Telegraph: **** “This is a sensible, sensitive and spirited version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at the Young Vic”
British Theatre Guide: “When it comes off, this approach presents rich dividends in new interpretations that add much to our understanding of the writer and his or her intentions. However, more often, the Carrie Cracknell approach which faithfully depicts the original, albeit through fresh eyes, proves far more reliable and successful.”
The Upcoming: ** “Nora: A Doll’s House hints at an entirely modern take, looking at how the erosion of the welfare state, the shutting down of women’s shelters and the continued prejudices of the workplace prevent women from being easily able to leave abusive, unhappy homes. Instead, that narrative is wasted on a distracting wider gimmick.”
Nora: A Doll’s House continues to play until the 21st March.