Originally set in Norway in the late 19th Century, A Doll’s House focuses on the role of women in family life, whilst openly contrasting how men are expected to handle business and monetary affairs. I can’t pretend to have an in-depth knowledge about theatre, but I know for sure that The Company struck gold with Glenn Roberts’ production of this charming play on Wednesday night.
The story revolves around Nora Helmer (Suzie James), a young mother, and wife to newly appointed bank manager, Torvald (Neil Sullivan). In order to pay for life-saving treatment for her husband, Nora breaks his one rule – to borrow money from the bank. She forges her father’s signature and secretly takes out a loan of £250, with Torvald’s colleague, Krogstad (Jaimie Watts). Without fully understanding the terms involved, Nora begins to learn the hard way that the world can be very cruel.
The women in this play are ultimately disempowered in the presence of men. At first I was taken aback by the way in which Nora is condescended by the men in her life, but eventually I got used to the nicknames Torvald had for his “imprudent” young wife, and the implications therein; “Skylark” and “Squirrel” become clear metaphors for her love of shiny, expensive things, and her open joy at the sight of money. This is key to understanding Nora’s character, as we are constantly told that she is “merely a woman,” with no knowledge of “men’s business.”
Krogstad really made the play for me, as he so convincingly displayed fury and despair, on top of the hurt of his past love for Christine (Erin Whyte). Alongside the seriousness displayed by the key protagonists, I especially enjoyed the comic appearances from Dr. Rank (Alex Moore) and his fantastic drunken stage presence, and Helen the maid (Brenae Maxwell) with her subtle yet effective background appearances and sarcastic glances – with the ebb and flow of emotionally charged scenes, a bit of light-heartedness never went amiss.
I thoroughly enjoyed this performance, even though I didn’t expect to at the start. This play will appeal to a wide adult audience, due to its mature themes and use of old-fashioned dialect; however a younger audience may fail to understand its content at times. Even if you don’t consider yourself a ‘theatre person,’ I recommend giving The Company a few hours of your time.