Star rating – 7/10
This is a very different play about the institution of marriage from Friday night’s frivolity courtesy of Noel Coward. Ibsen’s 1897 play ‘A Doll’s House’ from the Library Theatre company at their temporary home at The Lowry is a much more sombre and thought provoking affair. Emma Cunniffe plays the lead role of Nora Helmer, who is the wife of a bank manager on the verge of a triumphant promotion. Nora and Torvald have been seemingly happily married for eight years, and have two small children and a happy, cosy, and idyllic home.
But Nora is hiding a secret that she has successfully managed to keep from her husband for years. And she is forced to confront it when she has a chance encounter from an old friend from her past, Mrs Linde. Ibsen’s views on the position of women were radical in his day, and are still pretty progressive now, and the events in his play still have the ability to cause shock waves even now.
Nora is forced to see what her doting husband really thinks of her, and to confront what role she has been playing through their relationship and her position in it. It is an intelligent, and sometimes humorous play, which is well adapted by Bryony Lavery to maintain its relevance to a modern audience.
The acting is solid, if not sparkling, with Ken Bradshaw as the smothering, domineering husband Torvald, and Paul Barnhill as his unpleasant but mistreated employee Krogstad. Daniel Brocklebank is excellent however in role of family friend and admirer of Nora, Dr. Rank. The themes of marriage, honesty, honour and love are explored in a relevant and important Ibsen classic. A good play – which is definitely worth watching for its message.