Theatre Review: Nora: A Doll's House At Young Vic
“You’re not meant to talk to me like that”, retorts a #Metoo savvy Nora after her husband crudely suggests sex. The 1879 classic A Doll's House had the housewife walk out on her family, sparking outrage among its audience. Rather than examine the social attitudes of the time with a page to stage revival, here writer Stef Smith is more concerned with how far we’ve come.
There are three Noras on stage in this revival, intentionally separated by 50 years. The 1918 Nora is finally free to vote. In 1968 abortion became legal and in 2018 women felt more encouraged to speak up about sexual abuse. The three share many similarities but the times in which they live dictate their attitudes and behaviours. It’s an inventive exploration of gender roles and feminism.
Natalie Klamar as 1968 Nora exudes the bubbly nervousness that only a person on the very edge is capable of. Anna Russell-Martin captures the confidence 2018 Nora has obtained in feeling she has a voice, although remains a victim of both her husband and the social climate. Luke Norris brings something new with each incarnation of Thomas, switching between eras in a blink without missing a beat.
The piece is bursting with imagery, relying on the actors to do most of the work. The three Noras move in synch, mirroring gestures and speaking in chorus. Completing one another’s sentences, the writing is rhythmic and often poetic. The climax works wonderfully as Smith utilises her 2018 Nora to poignantly deliver the stark truth that although progress has been made, there’s still a long way to go.
Ibsen’s spirit is very much still alive here, but there is also another exciting voice in the room.
Nora: A Doll's House, Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 8LZ. Tickets £10-£43, until 21 March 2020.
Last Updated 12 February 2020