EMAV Review: LVLT's Classic Doll’s House is timely

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

Photos taken by Kris M. Mayeshiro/ km2creative

★★★½☆ - Satisfying

Henrik Ibsen’s drama, “A Doll’s House,” was published and performed in the late 1880s. With the fight for women’s equality still raging today, the election of so many women to legislatures around the country brings the play’s ideals front and center.

The original sparked much controversy and adaptations abound (even a radio version). Using a literal translation by Charlotte Barslund, Frank McGuinness’ 1997 adaptation sticks closely to the original and won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

This LVLT production, directed by Jane Walsh, is stylized. It takes on a Dickensian London atmosphere introducing the characters delivering gifts. Actors greet with hugs and kisses, or foul expressions depending upon the relationships yet to play out; dialogue is mouthed, while the children are busy with a period hand-clapping game. Once the gifts (children’s blocks) have been placed on a bookshelf, everyone exits, and the actual play begins.

As Nora, Olivia Hernando flits and twirls and dances around the stage, delivering a laughing, silly, naïve Scarlett O’Hara-type damsel. She’s never in one place for long and very self-absorbed. Hernando retains that even as her transgression(s) are revealed. Only when she’s faced with complete destruction do we see any convincing conflict. The change from woe-is-me to self-determination happens in a sudden realization rather than slowly deriving from a discussion with a family friend. Hernando further muddies the waters as the only actor to deliver dialogue in very precise, stilted enunciation.

Her husband, Torvald, is played effectively by Shane Cullum as he first coddles, then slowly becomes concerned for Nora’s mental welfare as she has trouble with a dance he taught her years before. His hands, then body shakes as he reads of her crimes and realizes what they will do to the family. Subsequently, reading a letter absolving her, Cullum again takes his time in the realization; thought processes expressed slowly as things sink in and his excitement and relief mount.

Marni Montgomery-Blake delivers a steady performance as Kristine Linde, Nora’s childhood friend. Her displeasure with Nora’s selfishness is displayed behind softly delivered words, and she moves with the confidence of a woman who has faced her own difficulties in life and come to terms with needing to provide for herself as well as a desire to care for others.

The villain of the piece comes in the form of one Niles Krogstad, played with finesse by David Ament. He’s subtle when he needs to be and overtly threatening when that ploy doesn’t work except when Krogstad turns his back in a position of weakness.

Like Hernando,