Nora cuts to the chase
Nora, adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House at Colchester Mercury until November 21.This stage version by Ingmar Bergman leaves us in no doubt just how much film the noted Swedish movie director must have left on the cutting room floor in his time.
Nora, adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House at Colchester Mercury until November 21.
This stage version by Ingmar Bergman leaves us in no doubt just how much film the noted Swedish movie director must have left on the cutting room floor in his time. At a stroke, five of Ibsen's original ten characters have disappeared.
The children are not even heard, let alone seen and we cut to the chase very quickly under Sue Lefton's direction in what is a very pared-down production in every way with minimal props and scenery and the cast seated in the dark edges of the stage, still as statues, awaiting their cues.
It's a great idea because their silent presence adds tension. We know that each one of them is ready to step into the story and turn the screw on this apparently happy woman who, in the name of love, has made one silly, innocent mistake.
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Nora borrowed money to save her sick husband Torvald's life - not something she could tell him about because it would hurt his pride - especially as she has done it illegally in her dead father's name.
The problem is that she got the nearly 5000 kroner from Nils Krogstad, a man with a dark past who Torvald, as the newly-appointed manager, intends to sack from his job at the bank. Krogstad is prepared to use blackmail to stop this happening and Nora's peaceful, idyllic life starts to crumble.
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Kate Copeland does a great job of developing Nora from the seemingly empty-headed plaything her husband wants and then being shocked into making the most momentous decision of her life, telling him that their house has been nothing but a playroom for him and she the doll inside it.
Not only has she discovered how much Torvald's arrogance and self-love outweighs his concern for her but her close confidant and would-be lover Doctor Rank, played with quiet humour and dignity by Roger Delves-Broughton, is dying on her.
On top of that Nora's best friend Christina Linde (Kate Locke), who could save the situation, decides in her own interests, to betray Nora in a series of catastrophes that, rather than destroying her, builds an iron will to succeed on her own terms. Here is a woman unwilling to accept the easy way out.
Ben Livingstone gives Nills Krogstad a more sympathetic edge than we expect and Ignatius Anthony swings initially with fine facility between the bully and the lover and, finally, is a wonderfully confused man who is not sure what has hit him.
It's good dramatic stuff and director Sue Lefton has given the famous 19th century piece a very different, almost ethereal ending.