A Doll's House

2013-3-11

This is the second run of Carrie Cracknell's production of Henrik Ibsen's play at the Young Vic. A Doll's House features an acclaimed performance by Hattie Morahan as Nora.

One of the interesting things about the play is the way Ibsen finds the potential for a profound human story within the context of everyday life. A modern film or story might be set in a normal home, but something really unusual would have to occur (the family finds an alien living at the bottom of garden) before the story could say anything important. Think about any film after The Graduate.

The main challenge is to make Nora's moment of enlightenment in the final minutes of the play believable. It's almost believable. Part of the problem is in taking the pre-enlightened Nora at face value. When she jokes about money and chocolates, it's difficult to remember that feminism hasn't really happened yet and she is being entirely genuine. Something similar could be said of Nora's husband Torvald: he's not really a misogynist because that isn't really possible given his context (which explains why he is so completely bewildered by the end of the play). The problem with Nora's enlightenment is that given our contemporary situation we want to read it as a progressive result, but it is also a moment of madness where a new fantasy supplants an older one in an unstable mind. The result is that in order for her enlightenment to be believable we also have to dismiss her as a "crazy woman".

A Doll's House is at the Young Vic until the 20th of April, 2013.


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