Review of the Show
New Forest Players
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
Ballard School Theatre
25th October 2017
It’s often the small things that make the difference and a warm welcome from a friendly, clearly identified front of house team, gentle background music to help one tune into the atmosphere set the tone of the evening nicely. A Doll’s House is a well-known classic and it is to the credit of New Forest Players that they have embraced this thought provoking play for their audiences. Directed by Bruce Macintosh, the simple, yet stylish, set drew us in to the oppressive scenes of Nora’s treatment by husband Torvald (Jim Lockwood) as the egotistic man who sees his wife as a fluttering songbird.
Kitty Cecil-Wright puts in a splendid performance of this very challenging role. She barely leaves the stage and drives the pace forward during Ibsen’s long scenes. Initially, I found her to be a little too hysterical and would have liked to see more light and shade to allow us more empathy to her character. However, as the play reaches its climax, where Nora realises that she must make the decision to be an individual and not someone’s pretty doll, she was particularly strong, giving a powerful and emotive performance.
Supported by a good cast, particular mention should go to Zoe Keith as Nora’s supportive friend Kristine and Mathew Stone as the lovelorn Dr Rank. Christina Derrington as the practical maid Anne-Marie gave depth to her character also.
As I mentioned at the beginning, it is often the small things that make a difference. It jarred that the chair on which Kristine sat was not set further round – she was constantly in profile, making it difficult to hear her at times. The doors to the house were confusing – at one point the sinister Krogstad (Chris Davis) left through what we thought was the door to the rest of the house then re-entered through the front door. Nora was not able to access the letters in the post box as they were ‘locked’, yet Torvald simply slipped them out easily. It distracted one from the action (as, unfortunately, did the noise of whispering and movement backstage). Inevitably there were a few first night wobbles and I am sure that as the week goes on the pace will quicken and become more intense.
These issues aside, New Forest Players must be commended for producing an intense, and entertaining evening. The audience last night certainly appreciated it and I hope that many more come to see the play for the rest of the run as it deserves a big audience.
Four out of five stars for this production.