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Live! - Culture

A Dolls' House

Dec 08 2004 17:21
Ruth Davies & The Revolving Gnome
Dramsoc?s dramatic autumn installment of theatre in the Union Concert Hall
From left to right- Matthew Warden, Silvestre Pinho, Shreena Patel, Tim Ryley, Zoe Corbyn, Antigoni Spanou and Eliza Cullen

Last week saw this term?s offering from Imperial College Union Dramatic Society a.k.a. Dramsoc to most. Their work of choice this time around was Henrik Ibsen?s period piece, ?A Doll?s House? directed by Jen Metcalf.

This play, set in 1880, is less than up beat and centres around the lives of a relatively well to do couple whose relationship is revealed to be more than a little superficial. Nora Helmer (Elisa Cullen), the reckless wife of bank manager T?rvald Helmer (Matt Warden), is blackmailed by a disreputable lawyer and employee of her husband Nils Kr?gstad (Silvestre Pinho) to whom she owes money. She confides in her childhood friend Kristine Linde (Antigoni Spanou) who in true dramatic fashion makes a timely reappearance.

The principles ably performed what at times was a highly emotional and evocative work despite heckling from a slightly drunk and rowdy minority of the sell-out Friday night audience. They were well supported by Tim Riley in his role as the highly amusing Dr. Rank, Shreena Patel as the dutiful maid Helene and Zoe Corbyn as Anne?Marie the aging and over worked nanny.

On the technical side there was a careful use of well positioned speakers to give direction to the sound effects and the play was backed at points by suitably period musical numbers. The lighting, whilst atmospheric, did not live up to the quality of the acting particularly in the more emotional sections of the script and at times it was difficult to see the actors. The audiences? view of the actors was also hampered by the decision to perform the majority of the work on the floor of the hall rather than the stage, especially given that it had not been possible to erect fully tiered seating.

The set design was well in keeping with the period, although the wobbly nature of its construction and doors that would not stay closed at times provided unwelcome comedy to the rather more serious drama.

The show was nonetheless enjoyable and was well received by the audience.

Dramsoc?s next production will be an adaptation of the infamous pantomime ?Jack and the Beanstalk? showing from the 19th to the 22nd January 2005.

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Discussion about “A Dolls' House”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. ant   
Dec 08 2004 18:58

Personally i was impressed with the set only one of the doors looked slightly wonky but i'll not gripe at Chris for that - hanging a door is difficult at the best of times in something solid! Probably why i prefer acting to infer a doorway rather than physically building a doorway. A good acting performance all the same.

Dec 08 2004 23:39

To add to what seems more of a technical review, I must say that I thought the acting was excellent, particularly the smaller roles. I pick out Silvestre as Nils Kr?gstad for example. Partly this is because, on odd occasions, I had difficulty in believing the behaviour of the two leads. I suspect though that the fault may lie more in the script.

Overall, I must admit that I was more than pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed watching it. Well done to all.

3. Nia   
Dec 09 2004 12:09

I was really impressed with Nora Helmer. I found her convincing nearly all the time and felt her energy and committment was carrying the play a hell of a lot of the time. I agree with Technical Aside that Nils Kr?gstad was also very good. I had a little trouble with Dr Rank, the slightly monotonic characater was amusing for a while but then I felt some of his later scenes demanded a sincerity that didn't come through so well with the slightly 2D comedic character.

I liked the layout of the set a lot and didn't have trouble seeing the actors except when they sat down on the chaise longe. The gaps between set and side of stage and by doors were really offputting since you could see people moving backstage.

On a different note, I disagree with the Gnome and Ruth's description of Nora as reckless. The decision to take the loan was perhaps a little risky but was done out of desparation and she seemed to be aware of the potential risks and consequences involved. Her inability to deal with the situation stemmed from the way that she was expected to fill a very rigid childlike role and the way that role forbade her from dealing with the adult difficulties she faced. What does anybody else think?

4. Ruth   
Dec 09 2004 13:57


You'd have been more unhappy with what "the revolving gnome" originally wanted to write about Nora in the story. I toned him down!

Also, where were you sitting in the audience? The people sat towards the back of the unraised portion of the audience were stood up or kneeling on their chairs the whole way as it was impossible to see. Personally I had quite a good view (front row of the raised section), but we felt the review should reflect that significant portions of the audience did not.

5. Jen   
Dec 09 2004 14:04

Unfortunately the arrangement of the seating was not finalized until opening night. I assumed the raised section would be significantly raised not just a little bit to allow people to really look into the house, but it just one more technical element of this play that frustrated me as a director. I do apologize for everyone who had trouble seeing!

I'd also be interested to know what he originally wanted to write about Nora...


Dec 09 2004 17:51

The concert hall is built around a stage which leads to problems when productions take place on the concert hall floor. A lecture theatre or the great hall which has racked seating would be a much better venue for a production of this sort of but obviously leads to other problems.

With the exception of the Friday night, when we had nearly double the number of people of other nights, nearly everyone had a good view.

As for the actors they were all brilliant at the parts they were given (some parts were easier to work with than others), and the 'techies' particuarly thought Silvestre Pinho (playing Krogstad) made a lot of his part.

Dec 10 2004 13:35

I often wonder why plays dont just use the stage. The reason I usually hear in the past was the director or producer "want to take the action to the audience" the seats are then put further back....

That said, I thought this play was really good, although she people sat on the infamous-aforementioned-seating then they did disappear below the front row of audience. and i was on the raised area (although I am not that tall....), but anyway, the acting was generally good to very good. it was quite gripping really. imho

8. Nia   
Dec 10 2004 16:03

"we felt the review should reflect that significant portions of the audience did not"

I agree it should and I didn't mean to imply this wasn't the case, hence the phrasing "I didn't have trouble....". I was something like the 2nd row on the raised section.

Closed This discussion is closed.

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