Is there a greater feminist tragedy in theatre than that of Henrik Ibsen’s Nora, allowed to be a bluebird, a swallow or a skylark but never a full-grown woman?
In this wildly acclaimed transfer from the Young Vic, Hattie Morahan, slender and as beauteous as a painted Madonna, scotches that ideal every time she moves, which is all the time: compulsively twisting her wedding ring, tickling her children or dancing the tarantella for her adoring husband Torvald, who is as stupid as he believes a woman should be.
His dear little wife has borrowed money from a charlatan to save his health and is now sinking ever deeper into deceit; he doesn’t credit her with the ability to spell ‘line’, let alone open a line of credit. Torvald is a hard role in the modern era: times have supposedly changed but brainless leading men are still not popular. But just as Nick Fletcher makes us hate manipulative, desperate debt collector Krogstad, Dominic Rowan makes us care about Torvald – and doubly fool us when the chips are down.
The beauty of Ibsen’s play is that everyone in it is in some way a silly little fool, but at least the doll whose house – spectacularly configured by Ian MacNeil as a spinning top – we visit for three fabulous hours has some capacity to think for herself. All this is directed by Carrie Cracknell, a woman. Imagine that!
By Nina Caplan