A Doll's House
Written by Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Cathy MW Kurz
"Nora's life is on the upswing. Her husband got a promotion, and their financial struggles are over at last. But when a man from her past reappears, bent on bringing a dangerous secret to light, everything changes: her marriage, her family, and especially, her relationship to the world around her" (Dramatists Play Service).
Henrik Ibsen's epochal drama of marriage, and an "idealized home life" threatened by scandal and domestic disguises has long been celebrated as the playwright's daring condemnation of 19th-century society's oppression of women. And while it certainly is that, if that's all it were, it would render itself obsolete.
It's no longer debatable that women suffered and still suffer virulent prejudice and pressure to behave in certain ways, no longer shocking to see them defy conventions. "Message plays" have always had a short shelf life, often limited to their own time period. But Ibsen's writing continues to resonate. That's because his interest lies less in polemics and more in the timeless contradictions and confusion of fully-dimensional human beings.
A Doll's House is a play of unravelling: an unravelling marriage, unravelling roles, unravelling visions of self for everyone. When a woman--or man--wears a mask, can the face really grow to fit it (as Orwell suggests)? Does one love the mask of the partner, the person behind it, or a combination of the two? Where does the heart figure into all this? And the soul?
"Sober pragmatism . . . erotic heat . . . self-preserving desperation . . . a glow of fever. . . Ibsen did indeed create complete characters who are always waiting to be rediscovered." (New York Times)
"Nora [is not] a passive doll who finally discovers her backbone, Ibsen suggests a richer psychology from the start."
(San Francisco Chronicle)
"Written in 1879, Ibsen’s play packs sticks of dramatic dynamite as it takes on marriage, money, secrets, reputation, and power. It assumes up-to-the-moment urgency and accessibility . . .." (New York Theatre Guide)