Henley Street Theatre Delivers a Classic with a Message
Joan Tupponce's review of "A Doll's House."
The issues that “A Doll’s House” addresses are as relevant today as they were when Henrik Ibsen wrote the play in the 1800s.
The show, Henley Street Theatre Company’s current offering, is presented as part of the Minds Wide Open Festival. The play is set in a time when there was no equality in a marriage; a time when married women had few rights. The thought of a woman making her own choices in order to find self-fulfillment was absurd. In “A Doll’s House,” the lead character Nora leaves her children and husband to find her own voice. While the play addresses social stigmas that involve women, the messages it delivers – the importance of equality and becoming self-aware and, in turn, self-fulfilled – are universal.
Working with a newer translation of the play, Director Anna Johnson has successfully made the subject matter current and understandable.
Andrew Boothby plays Nora’s husband, Torvald, who thinks of his wife as a porcelain doll that could be easily broken if given too much freedom. His portrayal aptly reflects how the character sees Nora as a beloved possession that is unable to make independent decisions. Boothby picks up on the character’s inability to emotionally connect with his wife on an equal level.
Freddy Kaufman is delightful in his role as Dr. Rank, a family friend who secretly loves Nora. He has a commanding presence on stage that adds a lightness and honesty to the situation.
John Moon is convincing as Nils, who desperately tries to hold onto his job by blackmailing Nora. Jolene Carroll falls into the role of Nora’s housekeeper and nanny with ease.
In her role as Nora, Jennie Meharg skillfully portrays both Nora’s naive childlike notions as well as her womanly need to learn more about herself and the world. Meharg expertly uses small subtleties – a nervous laugh, a rapid answer, an incomplete thought -- to make Nora’s uneasiness apparent.
Henley Street’s “A Doll’s House” is an entertaining, thought provoking production. The play runs through May 29.
For V for Women and Joan Tupponce.com, this is Joan with One Woman’s View.