Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, so we were told as we gathered on a street corner in North London, is the most performed play in the world. The reason for this: audiences are fascinated with human nature, and, more pertinently, the secret behaviours and lives of other people within the walls of their own homes. Fix&Foxy’s production transcends the usual limitations of immersive naturalism, by not only performing the play in a domestic home but delving further into the exploration of spontaneous human decisions and experiences by using real people.
Through simple techniques, three performers (Cassie Raine, Ben Samuels, and Jamie Zubairi) intertwine the reality of a marriage and the couple from the play itself to retell perhaps the world’s most retold tale of domesticity.
We sit in a living room filled with family photos, furniture which has entertained, accessories which each have a unique history. Nora is asked if there are any treats in the house (as it happens, this Nora was sugar-free), so out came the dates and nuts from the kitchen. As a couple dance together, with dimmed lighting and music, we see before us true sparks of romance. A man really shouts at his wife.
A woman leaves her keys and slams the door on the way out. We hide in the dining room, dance in the living room, watching a marriage that has lasted several decades slowly collapse.
The performers are patient, perhaps too patient at times. What they’re doing is extremely risky. The participants don’t always conform; Torvald isn’t quick to destroy the letter, Nora doesn’t have to do much to persuade her husband to do what she says, he just does. The performers maintain a focus which keeps us all on track.
Through feeding lines and interactions from other characters, the plot does progress and we are provided with neat, albeit incomplete scenes. Parts of the story are missing or glided over, but this doesn’t take away from some of the most truthful naturalism I have ever experienced.
Review by Joseph Winer
A DOLL’S HOUSE
A DOLL’S HOUSE after Henrik Ibsen
concept and direction by Fix&Foxy (DK)
Directed in the UK by Pelle Nordhøj Kann
Performed by Cassie Raine, Ben Samuels and Jamie Zubairi