No toying with the Doll's House at the Young Vic
I've never experienced an audience reaction quite like the one I experienced on Friday at the Young Vic while watching A Doll's House.
When the nanny brings Nora's (Hattie Morahan) children home from an outing the two young boys run onto the set followed by nanny carrying an infant-sized and shaped bundle which she carefully hands to Nora. Nora turns around to face the audience and the bundle is, as expected, a baby but this is no prop, it's a real baby. I wasn't aware of anyone actually saying anything out loud but you could hear everyone thinking 'it's a baby!'.
Naturally it was a hot topic of conversation in the interval and one of those theatre moments I won't forget. The baby nearly stole the show - he or she behaved perfectly - but it was a superb production all round.
First time I saw A Doll's House was at the Donmar in 2009 and I was completely blown away with the production and how ahead of its time the play was.
Nora, played here by Hattie Morahan, has secretly borrowed money to pay for her sick husband's sabbatical to Italy to recover his health. To her husband Torvald (Dominic Rowan) she is silly and naive, a doll to play with and he likes that but behind his back she is working diligently and spending thriftily to pay off the money before he finds out. All is going well until her money lender decides to blackmail her.
Back in 1879 when it premiered it was controversial for challenging the perceived societal norms, the inequality between a husband and wife's rights or indeed the rights of women generally.
It's a feminist message that still has some resonance now and Morahan's performance really brings that to the fore. Her growing hysteria and erratic behaviour while feeding stereotypical prejudices eventually develop into something that is more determined, strong and empowered.
The Donmar production with Gillian Anderson playing Nora felt quietly tragic this crackles and fizzes with an underlying tension and conflict that draws nicely to its emotionally explosive conclusion.
A Doll's House runs at the Young Vic until July 28 and I'm going to give it four and a half stars. The first half is long at 1 hour 45 mins so maybe stick to shorts in the bar beforehand.
Easy peasy one this, Hattie Morahan was in ...some trace of her with Mr W but I also want to throw in a second degree, Dominic Rowan was in The Village Bike with Romola Garai who is in The Hour.