Arts / Curtain up on one of the world’s most controversial plays

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Elaine Noon (Helene),  Rob de Fries (Torvald) and  Susannah Frith (Nora). Photo: Helen Drum.

HENRIK Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”, which opens tonight (Friday, February 15) for Canberra Rep, remains one of the most controversial plays of all time.

It is arguably as relevant today as it ever it as it was in 1879, when it shocked respectable Norwegian audiences because the central character walks out on her uncomprehending husband.

The rest of us comprehend it – the whole play shows how Nora’s role as an individual, wife and mother is belittled and infantilised and some in the audience tonight will wonder if anything much has changed since 1879.

Director Aarne Neeme is a dab hand with this drama, having directed it in 1991 for the Perth Festival with Greta Scacchi in the lead role, Nora. This is his  14th directorial role with REP since 1983.

Susannah Frith (Nora), Rob de Fries (Torvald). Photo: Helen Drum.

An exciting piece of news for him and for the wider Canberra theatre scene is that later this year Caroline Stacey at The Street Theatre is planning to stage the New York hit play “A Doll’s House 2” by playwright Lucas Hnath, giving both theatres a good excuse to do some cross-marketing.

In his 21st century version, Nora returns home after 15 years to settle matters.

Stacey told “CityNews” earlier in the week that whenever she has asked people to speculate on what happens to Nora after the first play’s event, they always come up with grim scenarios suggesting that her actions had done her no good.

Canberra audiences will just have to wait and see how contemporary concerns manifest themselves in this reimagining, but meantime Rep is offering a rare opportunity see one of the world’s most important plays by one of its greatest playwrights.

“A Doll’s House”, Theatre 3, Acton, until March 2. Bookings to or 6257 1950.


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Helen Musa
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