Henrik Ibsen’s A Dollhouse (translated from the original Norwegian title Et dukkehjem) is a literary classic and perennially features on the curricula at secondary and tertiary levels. The Norwegian born playwright penned this piece of modern prose drama while in Italy in 1879. At the time of its publication the play was controversial for its commentary on marriage, the sacrificial role of woman and women’s rights in general.
The messages in A Dollhouse are portrayed in a somewhat chaotic manner, as director Daniel Schlusser ambitiously seeks to bring the doll-like qualities of each character to bear as well as including a social commentary about the 'kidults' of today, that we are all Noras obsessed with sex, money and status.
In this 2007 version, Ibsen's work is staged in a converted designer warehouse. Nora (played by Katherine Harris) is in one scene, dressed in a fluoro orange t-shirt with ‘Young, Fab & Broke’ in black capital letters, over PVC leggings and patent leather ankle boots. Husband, Torvald (played by Nick Jamieson) works at Macquarie, wears denim, meditates and taps away at his play station to escape life's stresses. Nora's banned sweets are Pascall’s Marshmallows and ‘I need a hero’ her signature song.
Despite the wigs and the caricatured costumes and the playful reference to Ibsen's Norwegian heritage at the outset, the overarching crescendo of seriousness does eventually fall on the audience. It is in these more serious scenes that the true talent of the cast glistens. The actors are adaptable and each gives a tenacious and energy plus performance. Interestingly, Schlusser strips back the final scene in which wife Nora dares to answer back to Torvald, making it stand alone from the rest of the frenzied vibe of his interpretation of the original work.
There is a recognisable level of comfort and sense of trust among the cast of this year's VCA Company, who employ a range of dramatic techniques. The music is thoughtfully matched. The difficult issues raised by this work are addressed with a spirit of entertainment and hope.
VCA Drama presents
By Henrik Ibsen
Venue: PS2, VCA Drama | 28 Dodds Street, Southbank
October: Sat 27 @ 7.30pm, Sun 28 at 6.30pm. Tues 30 and Wed 31 at 7.30pm
November: Thurs 1, Fri 2, Tues 6 at 7.30pm, Sat 3 at 2.30pm and Sun 4 at 6.30pm
Cost: $15 Full / $10 Concession
Information: 03 9685 9234