Step into “A Doll House” at Marin Onstage
Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House may hold the record for the most-produced play ever written, but last night was the first time this reviewer had ever seen it. I had no point of reference for either the play itself (I see plays first, then read the script after) or for how any of the roles had been performed. I can tell you that after seeing this production, it’s hard for me to imagine that any actress can have played the role of Nora to better perfection. From the opening moments of the play, when she emerges as a child-woman in a touching but unbalanced relationship with her paternalistic husband-banker Thorvald, through her clueless thoughtlessness in chatting with her widowed friend Kristine, on into her two-faced dealing with all her intimates as she attempts to reconcile the details of her deteriorating private life, Stephanie Ann Foster deftly shows the complexity of the role of Nora, as a reflection of the complexity and messiness of our own lives.
At the outset Gabriel A. Ross as Thorvald seems patient and kind and more than a little condescending to his “little squirrel,” but the two of them seem to have a happy, if not entirely mature, relationship. He maintains emotionally remote throughout the first act, opens up some in the second, but not until the third act do we see some real depth, some passion in this character. But when the storm breaks in him, it really breaks.
In the final moments of the play Nora gives voice to what would echo in 1970 as a prototypical feminist manifesto. If it seems a little dated now, imagine how radical Nora’s resolve to become her own woman and make her own way in the world must have seemed in 1879. The costuming very nicely demonstrates the era and the social class of the supporting characters, each of whom (Bill McClave as Dr. Rank, Jim McFadden as Krogstad, Kelsey Sloan as Kristine, and Lynn Sotos as Anne-Marie) is well played to reflect their inner turmoil, and their conflicted relationships with the principals.
Casual seating in this small venue; folding (upholstered) chairs, some of them around circular tables near the stage for good view of the action, and conversation during the intermissions.
Through November 17 at Little Theatre at St. Vincent’s, 1 St. Vincent’s Dr., San Rafael
Website: Marin Onstage
Box Office: 415-448-6152