It’s a man’s world, or so the song goes, and the latest offering from Theatre Delicatessen sets out to explore just that.
Sophie Reynolds’ adaptation of what is perhaps Ibsen’s most famous play is absolutely captivating. From the instant we enter 3-4 Picton Place, we are in a male-dominated world. Accosted by various people promoting an interesting array of gifts as we make our way to our seats, this society is evidently one in which women are expected to know their place.
A Doll’s House, first staged in 1879, is typically hailed as the first truly feminist play, and, with an all-female cast, this production does justice to that reputation. Not, we must add, in a male-hating, burning-your-bra sort of way, but in an intelligent and thought-provoking way.
This adaptation uses an intimate theatre with a catwalk-like stage, serving to emphasize the claustrophobic, corseted life led by Nora Helmer (Polly Eachus). The opening scene, involving scantily clad girls, will definitely grab your attention, and Nora’s little coquetries successfully portray the ditzy, simplistic woman she is expected to be.
The play gains strength as it progresses and we are drawn to sympathetic portrayals of Nils Krogstad (Rhoda Ofori-Attah) and Christine Linde (Zimmy Ryan). Melissa Woodbridge plays a brooding Dr Rank, suffering from a disease caused by ‘his father’s youthful amusements’, an innocuous euphemism for congenital syphilis. Margaret-Ann Bain, playing Torvald Helmer, steals the show with an excellent and convincing performance. Will Reynolds’ lighting design and Fergus Waldron’s sound designs are also notable.
A final word of warning: in a male-dominated world, women may want to exercise caution when entering the theatre bar.
By Rachel Phillips