Review

Dramaworks builds a successful 'House'

Oct 19 2009
Jan Sjostrom | Palm Beach Daily News

When we meet Nora Helmer at the start of A Doll's House she's content to be the lapdog of her domineering husband and the playmate of her three children. Little does she know that during the next few days she will be tested to the breaking point. Nora's ordeal comes to a crisis in a taut production of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 masterpiece at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach. Margery Lowe's radiant Nora is like the high sustained vibrato note of a violin rising above the orchestra of a strong supporting cast. But the surprise of the production is Michael St. Pierre's shattering accompaniment as Torvald. ...Thanks to producing artistic director William Hayes' insightful direction and St. Pierre's performance we see not only Torvald's hypocrisy and self-centered peevishness but glimpse the possibility of something better in him. Nora's troubles begin when she's blackmailed by Krogstad, a money lender who threatens to expose her for illegally forging her father's signature on a loan unless she secures him a position in her husband's bank. The tension builds as Nora writhes under the pressure of her dilemma until the final scene, when the truth, in more ways than one, comes out. ...the production rises to the considerable challenge of Ibsen's multilayered masterpiece. Supporting players include Colin Lane as the couple's acerbic friend Dr. Rank, Gregg Weiner as the reluctant blackmailer Krogstad and Nanique Gheridian as Nora's downtrodden friend Kristine. Michael Amico's set, Brian O'Keefe's costumes, and Matt Corey's sound design, which includes music commissioned for this production, evoke the proper period atmosphere. Ron Burns' lighting design is superior throughout, but particularly in the telling final moment.