Hunter Intro to Theatre

A Doll's House Review by Tyler

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    A Doll’s House, hosted by Hunter College’s Theater department, was a success due to a well-designed stage setup battered together with the authenticity and spirit the actress who played Nora brought to the audience. A Doll’s House is a play written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879, with the plot of promoting the right of equality between men and women. Hunter’s production of A Doll’s House was quite legit and memorable, even as a small scale production.

    The play took place in Hunter’s Frederick Loewe Theater, which is a black box. Upon entry, a well-lit stage with contrasting colors opposed to the dark room catches the eye, with black thin cloth masking both sides of the stage, one for the front of the house where the mailbox is stationed and other for the room of Torvald Helmer. The middle stations the main stage, where the main action takes place, which was nicely setup to mimic the appearance of a living area from the time. The addition of the sides other than the middle stage was really what gave the sense of realism to the stage set as audiences can see what Torvalt was doing in his room and characters leaving to the left of the stage, instead of just all exiting from one location when they were not interacting with the scene. Lighting for the stage was near perfect, the correct lighting was focused on the main spot of the play and there were no flashy light play during the play that might’ve distracted the audience.  The play begins with the maid cleaning up the living area, and then enters Nora from the “front” door, back from her Christmas shopping. Then comes Nora’s husband, Torvald Helmer, who chides her for spending too much money on Christmas gifts, but Torvald has recently achieved a higher position in the bank which would increase their income, and a better lifestyle. Then comes Dr. Rank on his usual visits, followed by Nora’s friend whom she haven’t seen in many years, Kristine Linde. Ms. Linde tells Nora about her misfortunes, and Nora tells Ms. Linde about hers and how they had to travel to Italy to cure Torvald’s illness.

    The performance follows the written play bit by bit and there were no deviations. That being said, it can be questionable to why Nora and Torvald was played by black actor/ actress. One interesting point might be that the play had an intent not only to broadcast gender equality, but by switching the character’s authenticity, they sought to broadcast for racial equality as well, which in perspective, would be successful as the play resonates the fact that women can all seek their freedom, no matter their race. However, the play’s message is tilted more towards women than men as the main character, Nora, is the center of the play and the play’s original purpose was to protest gender equality. With the message a success, what about the play itself.

    The actors in the play were well practiced and perfected, to their extent. The main contributor to the enjoyment of this play was the actress who played Nora, she was highly energetic and authentic to the character she was playing. She made no mistakes in her lines and were smooth throughout the play, which made her the center of attention. As of Kristine and Dr. Rank however, they seemed to lack in fitting in with the play. In the beginning of the play when Kristine enters the house, she did not seem committed into the character and Nora’s over enthusiasm and energy overpowered Kristine’s character and made her look plain and boring, but as the play progressed, Kristine seemed to find that comfort zone and melded into the natural flow of the play. Dr. Rank however, played the character that looked hesitant and did rarely fit into the natural flow of the progression. He did however, maintained a structural character and when in Torvald’s room, it did really seem like they were engaging in conversation, which sustained his life in the play. The maids were very maid like, plain characters that were ordered around in the play. Lastly. Krogstad and Torvald were nicely played, with Krogstad coming on top of Torvald because the ending of the play, when Nora is about to leave Torvald, he did not seem to really want Nora to stay, it sounded like he was reading the script and not acting in some occasions, krogstad on the other hand, was well established and showed his character and the will to force his way, very determined.

    The play maintained a good structure thought its progression, but there were some things that were just a little bit out of place. One example is when Kristine and Krogstad kissed, her head was a lot bigger than Krogstad’s, it does not contribute to any factor of the play itself, but it was just a little annoyance on the side. Also, Torvald’s enthusiasm seemed to fluctuate throughout the play, some parts plain, and some parts connected. Which was a bit detrimental to his quality but to the play in general. The biggest downside in the play however, would be Nora, her enthusiasm and liveliness were over the top compared to the other characters in the play. She would standout every time and took the attention to her in most parts of the play. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just that the others need to step up their game to achieve the flow Nora brings to the audience. That being said, Nora concluded the play excellently, and Torvald hearing the door ring after Nora left, thinking she came back and changed her mind about leaving, only to have Nora slam the door in his face was entertaining.

    Hunter’s production of A Doll’s House was a good experience, the stage was well set, the costumes well designed and worn. The thing that sold the most however, was the actress who played Nora, she was the star of the show and over achieved everyone else. The play was entertaining to watch and there were no crash, it went smooth till the end. What would’ve made this experience a bit better is if the other actors would step up their game and compete for the spotlight, then it would make it a play worth re-watching.

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