A Doll’s House Royal Lyceum

This outstanding production of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen has been adapted by Zinnie Harris for the National Theatre of Scotland and has been set in Edwardian London in the world of politics. As one of the characters says, it’s about ‘rogues and politicians and I’m not sure what’s worse’. I’m not usually too keen on adaptations of an original play. I think if a play is still being performed over 100 years later it must have something meaningful to say and why tamper with a winner, but this adaptation is fresh and interesting while still looking at the issues Ibsen explored in the original.

Thomas Vaughan (Hywel Simons) is an ambitious politician recently appointed to the Cabinet. Amy Manson plays his wife Nora beautifully with just the right amount of suppressed hysteria. She is being blackmailed by the seriously creepy Neil Kelman played by Brian McCardie. (You would recognise him from Taggart and Rebus.) She has taken out a fraudulent loan from Kelman without Thomas’s knowledge so that she can take him abroad to recover from illness and keep his political career on track.

Kelman’s own career is in ruins and he threatens to go to the press with the details of Nora’s fraud if she doesn’t influence her husband in his favour.
Thomas Vaughan won’t listen and Nora is on the verge of asking family friend Dr Rank, played by Kevin McMonagle, to help when he declares his love for Nora making it impossible for Nora to ask him. Eventually Nora’s old school friend Christine revives her past relationship with Kelman and convinces him to stop the blackmail and return the IOU.

The play explores the inequality of women in a male dominated society. In the original version Nora is passed from her father’s house to that of her husband, like a plaything, a doll in a doll’s house. This gets lost somewhat in this adaptation but Thomas Vaughan is still a patronising, narrow-minded chauvinist who cannot comprehend why Nora is not happy to present to the world the picture of a happy marriage, whatever the reality behind the closed door.

I can’t expand on the end of the play without spoiling it for you, but I’d urge you to go and see it. It’s a great cast, brilliant play (and the Lyceum is a lovely theatre too).

Val Clark