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A CurtainUp Review
A Doll's House
By Amanda Cooper
If you are looking for a straightforward incarnation, you're not going to find it in this production. The female characters are played by tall, strong women. The male characters are all played by small, stately men -- little people who measure under four and a half feet. It makes for a double entendre to watch these big women forced to conform to a small world, with even the house made to fit the men. You see why they psychologically feel a need to have control over these towering women.
The acting of this offbeat production is superb. Maude Mitchell as Nora is incredibly detailed in her movements, yet still manages to give an impromptu vibe in her performance. Mark Povinelli as Torvald has a stage presence multiple times larger than his physical presence. Helene, played at the performance I saw by understudy Margaret Lancaster (both she and the regularly cast Lisa Harris are largely pregnant) is humorously sarcastic as the family's maid. Rounding out the women of the play is Honora Fergusson, playing distraught Kristine with appropriate desperation. Kristopher Medina as Nils Krogstadt, the sneaky banker appropriately slides back and forth from slimy and sorrowful. Rounding out the core cast is Ricardo Gil as Dr. Rank, whose silent suffering is heartwrenching.
There is no question that except for a few microphone problems the production values of this show are beyond solid. The creative team -- from choreographers to puppeteers to opera singers to props artisans -- has worked long and hard, and it has paid off splendidly . Carefully choreographed moments were sometimes saturated with lights, sound, and drop cloths -- not to mention an impromptu puppet sequence (a Mabou Mines specialty) with an operatic chorus in the background! All beautiful, but I couldn't help but wonder if the goals could not have been reached with a shorter and less complicated evening.
As with much experimental theater the real jewels here are the small moments of surprise which turn out to be the images that linger in the mind. This Dollhouse has its glorious share of these snippets my favorites being when the lovely piano player becomes insulted by the play and when Nora pulls out that first macaroon. In order not to spoil any surprises for you, I'll just mention that there's an unforgettable shocker during her last monologue.
Mendes at the Donmar
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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