Sometimes, whims and fancies lead the Alice down wonderful paths. I had heard of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House in passing many times and it just somehow clicked when I saw it on a deal at Audible. So what I heard for nearly two hours was a wonderful performance by L.A Theatre Works starring Calista Flockhart (star of Ally Mcbeal and Harrison Ford’s wide I think) playing Nora and Tim Dekay as Torvald.
I guess I am a bit late to the party, since after reading I spent my entire afternoon reading up on background and criticism and praise ranging from audience shock, to the play ending changing against Ibsen’s wishes in certain countries (to make it more acceptable). One thing I believe is that the ending is perfect just as it is. Nothing else would or could make more sense.
In a nutshell, it is about a woman who is treated childishly by her husband, even after she has had three children, worked when they were in trouble and unbeknownst to all, has sacrificed a great deal for her family. The story mocks the law of required guardianship signatures for a woman who wants money and shows how Nora deals with things in her unique way to meet her ends.
But for me, this book is about a woman-girl who has just come out of the caves and seen a glimmer of light and with it, she is seeing a faded reflection of herself. Her soul, touched by the glow, knows for certain that she must look at herself completely or be crushed completely and lose her sense of self.
The beauty of this play is that Ibsen was a sly old thing. He portrays the husband as a chauvinistic, yet loving , yet patronising, yet insufferable smother of a thing. He has always kept Nora in the palm of his hands, protecting and nourishing her and also encapsulating her. He is not a villain, but by far he is no hero, nor the hero Nora needs him to be. The conceited husband is an obstacle but the children are the main hindering block to her self discovery. How does one abandon three innocent children? That is something every reader would have to figure out on their own.
Then there is the side story of Nora’s friend and the man who lent her money and the whole drama that comically ensues. Did I mention, that will all these grave themes in play, it is more of a comic situation than the deep, dark and dense issues that it addresses? That, in itself was perhaps the best thing about this performance. I heard this over 2 weeks ago and was marinating all the ideas in my head and even now, it is all swimming around (that means it is a sign of its Chi (Chi test in statistics is goodness of the test…. me and my imagery…sigh)).
I recommend this to men and women. However, you need to be a certain age I think to understand this play. I read this review where students were required to read this play and they were cribbing about it being ‘lame’. This is the cleanest non rated drama that requires PG 28 and above…just because some things are best understood when we reach a certain age and not before then.
To get the :
Audible Performance that I listened to: A Doll House
The written text: A Doll’s House