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Review of A Doll’s House at Brockley Jack Theatre

Nora Helmer Laura Kenward and Torvald Helmer Howie Ripley A Dolls HouseHow many of us know what true happiness is? Perhaps more of us feel like we’re trapped in a caged existence that we long to break free from?

In A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen looks at the way relationships are perceived by the people in them and their friends and family. What may seem like pure unadulterated bliss to the outsider could not be more removed from the truth.

It’s Christmas and Nora Helmer (Laura Kenward) and her husband Torvald (Howie Ripley) have much to sort out. Old friends and enemies threaten to ruin their perfect situation, but all is not as it seems…

The play takes place in the Helmer’s living room over a period of three days and the space is used well by the actors, despite the main focus being on the sofa.

The first act feels very long, with nothing to make the audience warm to the characters. In fact the entire performance is held together by Laura Kenward who succeeds in capturing the emotional turmoil of her character. She also makes the most of the furniture, lounging on chairs and the sofa in a very girly way – a complete contrast to her sudden maturity in Act II.

The others unfortunately struggle with meaningful expression, both facially and vocally and there is a significant lack of believable chemistry although David Scott-Lucas (Nils) comes across as suitably mean. Tom Collins’ portrayal of Dr Rank, although slightly creepy, works quite well and is a new interpretation of the character.

Howie Ripley manages to redeem himself in Act II; he is not only acting drunk, but forced to show several different emotions. His drunken disbelief is well-observed and truthful and the chemistry between him and his onstage wife improves dramatically.

However, this plays leaves a lot to be desired and considering that Ibsen’s play is not particularly amusing or gripping, the acting just wasn’t convincing to hold the audience.

Review by Michaela Clement-Hayes

+++++++

A Doll’s House
www.bromleylittletheatre.org

The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
410 Brockley Road,
London, SE4 2DH

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