Drama Department Revives Classic Play
November 18, 2012
In this time where women’s rights hang in the balance, Director Melissa R. Randel eloquently brings back, “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen, script was adapted by Christopher Hampton, a play that originally challenged women’s rights and roles in society
when it first opened in 1879.
GCC’s version of “A Doll’s House” opened on Thursday night, immersing audiences into the world of Nora Helmer, played by Leela Loisel.
The play starts out as Nora bursts through the front door with her servant in tow carrying Christmas gifts Nora bought while in town.
Although slightly contrived at some points, Loisel’s performance is fulfilling to watch. Though this is Loisel’s third production, it is her first speaking part. This is surprising because, as a main character, Nora appears in nearly every scene, talking almost continuously throughout each while Loisel never misses a beat (even if she did, the audience never knew).
The story takes place over three days: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after Christmas. As the days pass, Nora changes her views about her life and her role in society. Loisel excels in this character progression, as her attitude and demeanor change to reflect how Nora feels about her life.
After Nora arrives home, her husband, Torvald Helmer, played by Glenn De Bont, then greets her after a short while and immediately — though not obviously — shows that he is a controlling husband by remarking that Nora always spendshis money.
Throughout the play, Torvald off-handedly reminds Nora that she is just a silly woman who needs him to help her through life.
A controlling husband is not all that Nora has to deal with; the audience learns that she committed forgery to qualify for a loan (since women at that time could not qualify for a loan by themselves, Nora forged her father’s signature). She used the money to save Torvald’s life years ago, but never told him how she acquired the money. Now the lender is blackmailing Nora because he found out about the forgery.
James Bernard Datu brilliantly plays the lender, Nils Krogstad. It is astonishing that this is Datu’s first production; Datu became Krogstad and made the character both believable and relatable.
Krogstad reconnects with a lost love, Kristine Linde, played by Ashley Regan, while he is blackmailing Nora. Linde is a friend of Nora’s who recently moved back to town. Linde eventually persuades Krogstad to stop blackmailing Nora; however, it is too late, Krogstad already delivered a letter explaining Nora’s forgery to Tovald.
As Tovald is reading Krogstad’s letter, Nora tries to flee, but Tovald catches her just in time. De Bont shines as an angry Tovald when yells at Nora for possibly ruining his reputation. But all is not lost for Tovald, as a second letter from Krogstad is delivered. This letter explains that Nora no longer owes him any money and he will not expose her forgery.
Tovald is overcome with joy and tells Nora that everything can go back to the way it was because he is saved. Finally, it dawns on Nora that she’s just an object to Tovald, a doll in his dollhouse, when she asks him, “Don’t you mean we are saved?” to which Tovald replies, “oh yeah, you too.”
Nora then leaves Tovald and remains strong when he tries to persuade her to stay. The play ends as Nora exits and the door slams shut behind her.
While the performance is powerful enough on its own, the set, by Robyn Fishman; the lighting, by Guido Girardi; and the costume design, by Royce Herron, add to the authenticity of the performance.
“A Doll’s House” can be seen on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Auditorium Mainstage Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at www.glendalearts.org or at the box office in the lobby of the auditorium building.