Nora: A Doll's House
- Lorna Irvine
- 22 March 2019
Stef Smith's Ibsen adaptation is flawed but often inventive
It's a bold playwright who takes on a classic text like Ibsen's A Doll's House. Stef Smith's adaptation takes three strands of Nora's psychological narrative and contextualises them within three eras of feminist revolution: 1918, during the the time of suffrage; 1968, amid the civil rights movement, and 2018. Three actors play the respective Noras. Molly Vevers is the 19th century Nora; Maryam Hamidi the sixties version and Anna Russell-Martin a contemporary woman.
As Tom Piper's set is a jagged house effectively sliced open; so too are parts of Nora Helmer's psyche. As high concept works go, the device is mostly successful, bringing a stinging riposte to Ibsen's original domestic drama with a distinctive Scandinavian aesthetic.
Yet it is marred by uneven direction from Elizabeth Freestone. Naturalistic acting, from Russell-Martin and Michael Dylan's Nathan feels like an uncomfortable fit set against the mannered Tim Barrow as Thomas, Nora's abusive and conflicted husband.
It's Hamidi's steady and subtle performance which gives the play its most dignified Nora, and Dylan's Nathan undergoes a rich and complex transformation from venal, steely eyed businessman, to a more sympathetic and vulnerable presence.
Smith's script isn't perfect, but it's nice to see Ibsen's heroine reimagined, with her own voice and agency, for the #MeToo generation.
Tramway, Glasgow, until Sat 6 Apr.