A Doll’s House is Ibsen’s famous 1879 drama about the male patriarchy and Nora’s growing desperation, which finally (spoiler alert!) results in her leaving her husband and children.
This version, first performed in 2015, has been updated from 19th century Norway to 21st century New Zealand. The couple now live in a converted barn that they are gradually fixing up themselves, living off the grid and raising their children. The other characters have also been updated, and the story revolves around a workplace injury, rather than promotion in a bank. The moral maze is as deep as ever, as the story gradually unfolds and we discover whose version of morality matters most to whom. The play does, however, continue to emphasise Nora’s powerlessness in the face of circumstances, and her ultimate act of defiance and independence. As the action unfolds around Christmas, all of the supporting characters make demands on Nora, who is increasingly unable to cope with the conflicting pressures. Secrets and lies come out at the end, culminating in her departure.
Sophie Hambleton, who plays Nora, is a kiwi TV and film actor, and the supporting cast are all stalwarts of the Wellington stage and screen. The production moves away from the “gloom, gloom, I sit in my room” of more traditional Ibsen stagings, and at times is moodily lit and sound-effected to help stir the drama.
If you think you don’t (or won’t) like Ibsen, forget that. Go see this version.