Theater review: ‘A Doll’s House’

The play may be called “A Doll’s House,” but audiences attending Henrik Ibsen’s revolutionary 1879 drama usually only see a middle-class Norwegian drawing room. As economically devised for a single set, there was no need to see the rest of the house.

In the new revival now at BAM’s Harvey Theater, which comes from London’s Young Vic, a revolving stage is employed so that we can tour the entire household three dimensionally.

Although this is a nifty trick, the set, which is very short in height, looks awfully small in the tall Harvey auditorium, rather like a diorama pitched against a bare black backdrop.

The three-act drama, considered a benchmark in the development of modern realistic drama, revolves around Nora, a wife and mother whose sheltered life is thrown into turmoil when an outsider exposes an act of fraud she once committed in order to protect her husband Torvald.

Following Torvald’s expectedly harsh and self-centered reaction to the news, Nora’s peace of mind is lost and she declares that she must immediately leave her family in order to learn more about herself. The play ends with Nora exiting the house and, in a famous touch, slamming the door shut behind her.

Besides the scenic design and a sexually charged portrayal of Torvald, this is a relatively straightforward and faithful revival of the play, which has endured revisionist takes by concept-oriented, experimental directors.

Whereas many translations cut much of the text, Carrie Cracknell’s production runs just under three hours, which drains the dramatic momentum.

Compulsively fiddling with her hands, Hattie Morahan stresses Nora’s jittery and shaken up state of mind with expressive clarity.


“A Doll’s House” plays at the BAM Harvey Theater through March 16, 651 Fulton St., Fort Greene.

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