The Helmers’ beautifully appointed living room, cleverly designed by Michael Yeargan so we can see the clapboard exterior of their house, might be right out of a Pottery Barn catalog. The glossy shopping bags stuffed with Christmas gifts come from Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret. And when Nora turns her back on this picture postcard of middle-class domesticity, she’s wearing denim and a hoodie (the costumes are by Jessica Ford). Nora in a hoop skirt is a feminist heroine, the victim of a repressive, male-dominated society. Nora stomping out in jeans, in a blaze of Russell H. Champa’s lighting, is something else: a spoiled, irresponsible brat whose husband deserves better.
What? Sympathy for Torvald, the priggish, prejudiced bully who won’t allow his wife’s favorite sweets in the house and doles out the housekeeping money as if she were 6 years old? The genius of this reimagined “Doll’s House,” which Mr. Edelstein also directed, is that it forces us to re-examine not just our ideas about a classic play but also our smug assumptions about all the social change that would seem to separate us from Ibsen’s Norway.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Sympathy for Torvald?
From a review of the new Long Wharf production of A Doll House: