THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: A Doll's House ★★★★
A Doll’s House
Lyric Hammersmith, London
Friday 6th September - Saturday 5th October 2019
Streamed online for one day online, The Lyric Hammersmith’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 three-act play ‘A Doll’s House’, here adapted by Tanika Gupta, rises on the tackling themes of deceit, family betrayal and appearance in relationships, in a production which follows Niru’s (Anjana Vasan) side of the tale in this brave and stark feminist retelling, pieced together with a stunning concept and creative team along the way.
With Niru hiding a secret from her family, and most importantly her husband Tom (Elliot Cowan), Vasan is rather remarkable in the lead role, and with the marketing trail for this show having Niru’s face plastered everywhere, Vasan commands the stage with such complexity, even with such a petite stature, that we cannot help to be drawn into her pain of betraying the ones who surround her close, and keep her cocooned in the life they wish for her to lead.
Rachel O’Riordan pushes even further the anxiety stricken within Niru’s soul with sheer delight, that even though a digital stream the energy is so vivid on the stage as Niru bounces around on the stage between her peers and bares her soul out to the audience, as we watch on; With Niru and Tom commanding our full attention, it’s a relief to see the two actors by the likes of Vasan and Cowan fizz on stage with authority and small silences capturing our imagination and keeping our breath held tentatively.
Bringing 19th Century Calcutta onto a theatrical stage is no easy task, especially with this production where it all feels situated in one location, yet Lily Arnold rises to this with such accomplishment with incredible detail that bleeds through the screen with the angle that we get to gaze from; brightly coloured slate flooring is surrounded by a soft cream taste of a hot summer's day resonating from the grand walls and metal door frames that transport you into another country all together.
Along with Kevin Treacy’s flourishing lighting design, which defines features in certain scenes to keep our eyes transfixed upon the action, it’s a clear sign of exceptional understanding from the whole creative team to bring such an authentic setting to the stage, without forgetting the beautifully designed costumes that just add the extra bit of authenticity to the whole piece.
Overall, The Lyric’s adaptation of Ibsens' classic tale of love and deceit is radiant of excellent performances that capture realism and authenticity to the natural world from it’s two leads, furtherly heightened by a creative team that ultimately strive for performance in both a technical and visual element!