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Theatre Review: Nora--A Doll's House ****

Scott Purvis reviews 'a radical, innovative and clever' production.

Strung across a century like a string of softly twinkling Christmas tree lights, Stef Smith's excellent adaptation of A Doll's House is one of the most conceptually interesting plays of the year.

This creative piece casts three actors in the central role of Nora, placing each astride an epochal moment in women's history – firstly, the Nora of 1918, the year which gave women the right to vote; next, the Nora of 1968, the year which gave women the access to legal abortion and contraceptive pills; lastly, the Nora of 2018, a year which gave women... well... who's to say, looking from our own narrow vantage point in time?

True to Ibsen's 1879 original structure, each woman develops their shared narrative in line with the strange conventions of her time, leaving us to question whether or not progress is an illusion. Smith's tight writing keeps the tension taut, building the characters in a three-dimensional way and interspersing the quick-paced narrative with some infrequent, though perhaps not necessary, moments of physical theatre.

Each of the three actors playing Nora bring a unique quality to the role but are chained together by the pressures of the patriarchy on their gender. Anna Russell-Martin, Maryam Hamidi and Molly Vevers play the trapped woman with intelligence and strength, refusing to let her voice be swallowed by the times she's born into. Their supporting male costars don't have quite the same impact, perhaps appropriately, but form a solid cast which holds a mirror to our gender politics.

This is a radical, innovative and clever piece of theatre which flows with poetry, illuminating the truth of our times by forcing us to look back into the harsh sun of our past.

Runs at the Tramway until April 6th.

Tags: theatre

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