House beautiful

THE DOLL HOUSE by Henrik Ibsen, translated and adapted by John Murrell, directed by Vikki Anderson, with Fiona Byrne, Ben.


THE DOLL HOUSE by Henrik Ibsen, translated and adapted by John Murrell, directed by Vikki Anderson, with Fiona Byrne, Ben Carlson, Melee Hutton, Jordan Pettle and Raymond O’Neill. Presented by DVxT Theatre Company at Canadian Stage Upstairs (26 Berkeley). Runs to December 9, Monday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Saturday 2 pm. $12-$25, Monday pwyc. 368-3110. Rating: NNNNN

The subject matter of ibsen’s The Doll House — young mom walks out on family after husband chastises her for a fraudulent financial deal — isn’t nearly as shocking today as it was a century ago. But it’s still entertainingly melodramatic, and the women’s emancipation theme is as powerful as ever, judging by the audible female snifflings heard at the end of Vikki Anderson’s three-hour production.

In a newly commissioned translation/adaptation by John Murrell, the language is easy on the ears, even if the occasional colloquialism sounds too modern for the 1912 setting. Anderson is a more experienced designer than director, and it shows. The magnificent, naturalistic set allows the play’s considerable traffic to run smoothly while upping the suspense factor.

While the show lacks a raison d’etre — it has nothing new to say — it offers several plum roles, including an outstanding part for a young woman.

Fiona Byrne approaches her Nora energetically, with equal parts maniacal exhaustion and giggling girlishness, gradually darkening as the play progresses. It’s a studied, mannered performance that sometimes verges on comic caricature, but it’s valid.

Ben Carlson’s husband is nicely understated, uttering his chauvinisms with grace and charm, while Raymond O’Neill’s Dr. Rank is quite moving. Less successful are Jordan Pettle and Melee Hutton, the former unsubtle, the latter stiff.

Beautiful to look at, nice to hear, thoughtful. But somehow it doesn’t add up to more than that.

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