New Dundee Rep production of Ibsen's A Doll's House
Jemima Levick directs new version of play by Samuel Adamson
In an era where the term ‘banker’ has become disparaging rhyming slang, certain great classics of the theatre can be viewed with a new slant. In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the profession of husband and implacable patriarch Torvald implies the utmost probity and respectability – these days we might associate him with sleaze, greed and economic vandalism.
It’s a bad start for a character who, as Jemima Levick, director of this new version of the play by Samuel Adamson points out, already has enough problems. But here, he’s as much a victim of a way of thinking about society as his long suffering, eventually departing, wife Nora. ‘I’m keen that people don’t see it as a feminist play,’ says Levick. ‘What Ibsen was talking about was the equality of humankind. Each of the characters, in short, is a victim in this version.’
Yet the play often feels tragic, in particular, on the subject of Nora, who is made a victim of a system she has no control over. Levick’s production, while no doubt devolving its share of despair to the audience, promises a slightly more upbeat fate for Nora, partially because it has been updated to a 1950s milieu. ‘In the 50s, women, having been running things to a great degree in the war years, were forced to take a step back again. Nora has had a taste of power, only to have it taken away from her. What’s interesting about the difference in eras is that, in the original, Nora had so little to look forward to when she leaves, but here, at least, you can imagine her as a women’s rights campaigner of the future.’
Dundee Rep, Tue 19 Oct–Sat 6 Nov