A Doll’s House
Rose Lipman Building (London) [Foreign Affairs]
By Gustavo Subero
I must admit that it was with some trepidation that I stepped into the Rose Lipman Building (an old library building turned community centre that today houses a number of art projects) in the Hackney area of London. I knew from the outset this wouldn’t be my usual theatre experience: from the rather improvised bar to the tiny foyer in which me and a handful of people waited to be directed into what would be our seats and stage for the night. After crossing a dimly-light room, we entered the stage area where the only separation between the stage and the audience was the two rows of plastic chairs at either side of the performance area.
To transport Ibsen’s luxurious middle-class setting to this rather humble building required for the viewer a great deal of collaboration by overseeing and assuming some of the key elements that drive the narrative (for instance the luxurious throw that she proudly wears to the ball). Yet there are really nice elements in this production such as the screen in which hand-drawn figures and sketched at key moments in the play to signal key themes in the play such as childhood and family unit. The new translation by Iân Mackie and Paul Russell Garrett resists modern nuances and, instead, maintains the sophistication of XIX century’s English without being too pompous.
The performances were very believable. Trine Garret does a great job as the submissive-wife-turned-liberated-woman Nora, while Polly Attala is rather magnificent as the confident Mrs. Linde who, in turn, will be the catalyst for the female protagonist’s radical change. The male leads also did a great job with a special mention to Jason Denyer whose interpretation of Dr. Rank maintained the subtleties of a man torn between his loyalty to his old friend Torvald (played a convincing intermittence by Will Timbers) and his hidden desires for Nora.
This is fringe theatre at its best and just a pity that the production will not have a longer run in London or transfer to the West End.