A Doll’s House

Easter 2013 marks the triumphant return to the Young Vic of the production of Ibsen’s realist masterpiece that so pleased the critics in 2012 and earned its leading lady two Best Actress awards. A Doll’s House is, amongst many other things, a dark and intimate study of the complexity of human relationships, exploring the way secrets and lies, when buried for too long, can ultimately wreak destruction and ruin family life.

What is immediately striking about this piece is its magnificent use of space and music. Whilst Ibsen confines the action to one area in the play’s text, Ian MacNeil’s superbly imaginative set design treats us to a myriad of different, well-furnished and homely rooms which revolve to Stuart Earl’s atmospheric and haunting score. These elements work well together to embellish the fallacy of domestic contentment that shrouds Nora’s horrible predicament.

Another highlight is the appearance of the Helmers’ daughter Emmy, in the shape of a real baby girl. Impeccably behaved, she is not only a rare delight to behold on stage, but serves to underline the gravity and poignancy of her mother’s drastic decision at the play’s end, a decision that continues to astonish and perplex audiences and readers.

Hattie Morahan’s Nora is a sheer delight, switching easily from the naïve and playful child her husband, a handsome, suave and suitably irritating Dominic Rowan, perceives her to be, to the haunted, persecuted adult who has made the wrong decision for all the right reasons. The couple’s interaction on stage is utterly compelling and entertaining throughout, ensuring that a relatively long first half flies by.

Strong support is provided by Susannah Wise in the role of the well-meaning Kristine. Nick Fletcher’s Krogstad does not really convey the necessary gravitas, but this rarely distracts from a first-rate evening of drama.

Helen Macdonald