[...] As for A Doll’s House
, its topical chimes
seem to me to be a happy coincidence. Caroline McGinn hits
the bull’s-eye, I think, when she uses the term “suffragette” to
describe the opinions of the character of Christine. The play has
been relocated to a moment in English history when the social and in
particular the political status of women was forming a major part of
political discourse; when Nora walks out on a husband who in this
version is a politician, she not only asserts her independence in a
personal context but causes reverberations in the polity.
However, this interpretation rather depends on there being some
dramatic impact to her walking out. That doesn’t really happen in
this production. Lloyd Evans is spot-on in his mischievous
description of Toby Stephens’ performance as that of a comedy bounder
who finds himself in the wrong play. Ibsen’s portrait of the
Helmers depends in part on Torvald being almost
well-meaning enough to
counterbalance his unthinking condescension to Nora and his disregard
of her in the fourth-act crunch; the way Stephens plays Harris’s
version of the character, the surprise is that Nora has stayed with him
for so long… indeed, that she ever felt any affection for him in the
first place. Consequently, this is a version of the play that
tries to give us a new view of the forest by cutting down the colossal
tree at its dramatic heart.
More pensive reviews for Monsters
the Arcola, with its points about community and society responses to
the murder of James Bulger in 1993. Niklas Rådström’s script
makes repeated references to the possibility of audience intervention
in the play, and as written it seriously considers such an option and
asks that productions of the play do so in performance. And this
is the thing that puzzled me. I know director Christopher Haydon:
he’s intelligent, skilled and conscientious, and he assures me that the
company paid full attention in rehearsal to the possibility of such
intervention, and were well prepared to cope with it. And yet,
when I watched the play, I saw (or felt) no perceptible opportunity in
its staging, pacing, pitching etc, for such spontaneous involvement.
Now, I don’t mean that I was looking for such an opportunity in order
to interrupt the play myself; you may recall the events of last August
on the Edinburgh Fringe, when I and my fellow reviewer Chris Wilkinson
took matters into our own hands in an excessively oppressive play about
Auschwitz. But this is the crux of the matter: for reviewer Chris
Wilkinson and director Christopher Haydon are one and the same.
For Chris of all people, with this of all plays, to muff an opportunity
of this kind, is utterly bewildering to me.
Written for Theatre Record.