A Doll's House: Intensity still flickering in 1879 feminist drama

Review

A Doll's House: Intensity still flickering in 1879 feminist drama

Oct 23 2009
Hap Erstein | Palm Beach Post

...its view of women and the marriage dynamic is likely to seem quaint, if not antiquated, Palm Beach Dramaworks demonstrates that the play is still plenty stageworthy. True, housewife Nora Helmer's dilemma and eventual door-slamming escape no longer causes the shock and outrage they did to 1879 Norwegian theatergoers. But the domestic drama, and melodrama, still lands with intensity, particularly in the new translation by Frank McGuiness (Someone Who'll Watch Over Me). The play takes place at Christmastime, and our first view of Nora is her fluttery return from gift shopping, an indulgence that her newly promoted bank manager husband, Torvald, insists they can ill-afford. He acts parentally toward her, scolding her about everything from her dealings with money to her weakness for macaroons.... As we soon learn, she finds herself in a serious bind. Having forged her father's signature on a loan, she is now being blackmailed by a dour bank employee named Krogstad who is trying to save his job... A Doll's House has a cast of seven, but the play belongs to Nora, one of Ibsen's great female roles. Margery Lowe comes on strong in the second act. Following the character's unseen realization during intermission, she is at her best in her assertive run-up to the most famous exit of early modern drama. As Torvald, Michael St. Pierre is aptly stiff and stolid... Gregg Weiner (Krogstad) seems initially to be a two-dimensional villain, but he is nicely humanized in his second act scene with Nanique Gheridian as Nora's childhood chum, Mrs. Linde. The dependable Michael Amico delivers again with his design for the formal, austere living room of the Helmer home. More impressive are Brian O'Keefe's costumes, particularly Nora's going-shopping dress and her gypsy party frock. William Hayes' direction is respectful of the period...