BWW Review: Henrik Ibsen's A DOLL'S HOUSE Opens on City Stage in Kansas City
What a roller-coaster of emotions at a preview performance of A DOLL'S HOUSE on the City Stage inside Union Station. The three-act play produced by the Kansas City Actor's Theatre opens Saturday, August 10th and runs through August 25th. Darren Sextro adapted and directs A DOLL'S HOUSE from the 1882 translation (NORA: A PLAY) by Henrietta Frances Lord.
Norway playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote the play which opened at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark in December of 1879 among critical controversy. The play based on the life of Isben's friend Laura Kieler and incidents that occurred between Nora the main character and Torvald her husband actually occurred to Kieler. Many critics did not approve of the approach Ibsen took to tell the story of a woman who lacked opportunity and sometimes respect in 1879 Norway. It was an era of Norway when women lacked fulfillment in a male-oriented society.
A DOLL'S HOUSE is set in 1879 Norway; however, it could easily be set anywhere in the United States, including Kansas City, from 1879 to the present day. The play not only begins to bring attention to women's rights but can reflect any sex, any race, any denomination who are held down and ultimately controlled by their significant other or society as a whole. My hat is off to the Kansas City Actor's Theatre for bringing this marvelous work to the Kansas City stage.
Suspenseful, thought-provoking and at times humorous A DOLL'S HOUSE is a production that needs to be seen by Kansas Citians. Nora, the wife of Torvald, appears to be the happiest wife and mother in the world until her husband decides to fire his employee Nils Krogstad (marvelously played by Tyler Alan Rowe). It is then that Nora fears a secret she has harbored for years will be revealed and her husband and family will fall into the scandal that would ruin them. It is how Torvald handles the incident that determines the fate of Nora and her family.
Hillary Clemens is fantastic as Nora Helmer, delivering a powerful performance that ranks at the top level of actors in the Kansas City area. Her facial expressions, body language, and voice inflections bring Nora to life and make her a memorable character. This is her second performance for Kansas City Actor's Theatre having moved back to Kansas City from Chicago with her husband. She has appeared in Chicago, Seattle, and Lake Tahoe among others.
Todd Lanker portrays Torvald Helmer Nora's husband who repeatedly refers to his wife as his property. Cheers went out through the audience as Nora tells him, "I am first and foremost a human being." Lanker gives a wonderful performance as the man you don't want your daughter to marry. He has previously appeared at the Unicorn Theatre, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, and Coterie Theatre among others.
The entire cast of A DOLL'S HOUSE gives amazing performances. A DOLL'S HOUSE continues through August 25. For ticket information online go to www.kcactors.org. A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 will be performed at the Unicorn Theatre in October.
Photos by Mike Tsai