Un compilado de artículos de periódicos y/o revistas en cuales se habla sobre la puesta en escena de la obra Doll´s House. En las partes resaltadas se hace referencia al desempeño de Gillian Anderson en escenario.
20 May 2009 06:37 pm
It's 1909, not 1879. It's a government-owned house in posh London, not a cosy nest in small-town Norway. And Torvald Helmer is now Thomas Vaughan and, far from being a priggish bank-manager, is a smug recruit to the British Cabinet. Zinnie Harris's “new version” of A Doll's House has given Ibsen such a big twist that last night it seemed almost more about the careerism and cowardice of a senior politician than about the oppressive behaviour of a sexist male - and became, I suppose, just a bit topical as a result.
Nevertheless, the victim remains a wife called Nora, and Gillian Anderson, who plays the role, is still required to make one of the trickiest transitions in drama. By comparison the switch from skinflint Scrooge to spendthrift Scrooge is a synch and the jump from Jekyll to Hyde a mere matter of twisting the mouth into an evil scowl. But Nora the “little mouse”, as Toby Stephens's Thomas calls her in Kfir Yefet's production, must become the Nora who slams the door on him, their marriage and their children. And her decision must be logical and inner, not melodramatic or sentimentally Dickensian.
Does Anderson manage it? Just about. She's helped by Harris's script, which means that from the start she talks more assertively than her prototype, has a more bantering relationship with her husband, and so seems less childish and passive. She's always more woman than mouse, whatever he says, and potentially the sort of society hostess the Edwardian period valued so much. So when Thomas angrily rejects her after discovering she has well-meaningly forged her dead father's signature, neither her fear nor her disillusionment need be so extreme. Anderson's eyes redden, glisten, stare, look stricken - and it's enough.
The sexism is still there, though it's less pronounced than in the original. Stephens's excellent Thomas says things like “you are edible, Nora, but I must be careful not to feast too much”, patronises her for her supposed extravagance and love of macaroons, and has a serenely self-confident manner. But his swagger is very much that of the aspiring statesman, most evident when he tells poor Nora she's no idea how important he is as a member of a new government facing not only a “tinderbox Europe” but a “precarious economy”.
Here's where things turn somewhat topical. Thomas comes out with boasts of his probity and remarks like “as politicians ourstaple is trust”, yet doesn't merely rage and panic but starts a cover-up when he thinks scandal may ruin him. And that's particularly nauseating because Krogstad, the disgraced bank employee and loan shark who is blackmailing Nora, has become Christopher Eccleston's Kelman: a minister banished from both government and House after failing to admit to an unnamed fraud that is clearly pretty minor beside some of those coming to light in 2009.
Harris makes plenty of other changes, some awkward, some not.
This Nora illegally raised money to help cure her husband, not of some Nordic sickness, but of a potentially embarrassing nervous breakdown. His friend Dr Rank has become an extreme right-winger and her friend Christine a socialist and suffragist. But Anton Lesser and Tara Fitzgerald don't make much of these roles, because there's less to make of them than in Ibsen's original. And the overall result?
Not so much a Doll's House for feminists but maybe one for those of us still boggling at arrogance, selfishness and hypocrisy in high places today.
Anderson brings an X-factor to Ibsen revival
By Michael Coveney
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
There's an odd credit in the back of the programme to this powerful revival by young film-maker Kfir Yefet of Ibsen's breakthrough play about a doomed and argumentative marriage starring the luminescent Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame: the historical adviser is none other than Ffion Hague, wife of the former Conservative Party leader and published chronicler of Downing Street marriages.
Does that explain why Zinnie Harris has translated her new version from late 19th century Norway to Edwardian London in 1909 and shifted the tale of intrigue, fraud and betrayal from the world of finance to that of politics?
It's only a partially successful transposition, and lines like: "I've got him by his testicles," sound distinctly odd, even when uttered by former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston, full of ire and splutter as Neil Kelman, a Lancastrian politician hastily removed from office after certain "allegations" and a huge falling out with the PM.
In Ibsen, the catastrophe is impelled by a newly appointed bank manager's wife, Nora, being verbally abused by her own husband when the deal she struck to save him in the depths of a nervous breakdown is exposed as a fraud. She gets up and goes, leaving him and the children. That door bang echoes down the last century's drama, and still today.
At the Donmar, Anderson's beautiful butterfly Nora is a politician's wife – Toby Stephens' magnificently haughty and ambitious new cabinet minister Thomas Vaughan declaring (to huge laughs) that "our staple is trust; it's all we have to offer the public" – who has worked without him knowing and even bought second-hand clothes which he wears and she repairs to pay off the debt.
But she still owes the last payment, and it's that hinge of uncertainty that defines the drama. The house Nora and Thomas are moving into – Anthony Ward's design is a vast circular library of empty bookshelves, packing cases, an upper level glimpsed through an oval skylight – was once in the possession of the now-ruined Kelman, barrister Krogstad in Ibsen.
This gives the play an added twist of bitter displacement, though it's not one that serves it all that well. The play happens over Christmas, and that cheerless irony is beefed up with Anderson entering and leaving in a filmic cross-fade, Stephens hustling through the proprieties with an eye on his political future and expenses.
Stalking the scene is Anton Lesser's devoted Dr Rank, dying of cancer but maintaining one of those ambiguous domestic triangles Ibsen excelled at. Anderson is the equal of the most vulnerable Noras I've seen – Cheryl Campbell at the RSC, Kelly Hunter on tour – but she's easily the most touchingly innocent, and the most beautiful.
It's worth noting the superb playing of Eccleston and Tara Fitzgerald (once a fine Nora herself at the Birmingham Rep) as his true love, Mrs Lyle (Mrs Lynde in Ibsen), and Nora's best friend, in the sub-plot recipe for a slightly more ideal marriage. The play still bristles with hurt, relevance and anger, and didn't really need the political patina. Nice job, though.
When A Doll’s House opened in London in 1889, this paper pronounced that “it would be a misfortune were such a morbid and unwholesome play to gain the favour of the public”. How alluring those words now sound.
Ibsen’s drama is a powerful statement of his radical beliefs about gender, the folly of idealism and the nature of modern love. In essence, it is the story of woman who wakes up to reality. The married life of Nora Helmer — here Nora Vaughan — is based on a lie. She can lay claim to her humanity only by breaking sharply with convention.
This is hardly the stuff of parched antiquity, but Zinnie Harris’s new version of the play updates it — in a manner at once topical and trite. Instead of the severe landscape of Ibsen’s 1870s Norway, we are in London in 1909 in a drawing room cluttered with packing cases.
Ibsen’s upwardly mobile bank worker Helmer and junior lawyer Krogstad are now politicians called Thomas Vaughan and Neil Kelman; Toby Stephens’s Vaughan has recently supplanted the disgraced and bitter Kelman (Christopher Eccleston) as a Cabinet minister. It’s intriguing that the production’s “historical adviser” is Ffion Hague, for it has little to say about history, but plenty about political unpleasantness.
The attempt at relevance nevertheless feels gratuitous. If anything, it works against the play. And there are real problems of credibility. Anton Lesser’s Dr Rank has tuberculosis of the spine, yet seems peculiarly agile. Meanwhile, Thomas, who is supposed to be every inch the busy politico, appears to have a good deal of time for fatuous chat and to be weirdly unconcerned at the thought that his letterbox may contain a missive from the prime minister.
A quip that it’s much too late for Nora’s friend Christine (Tara Fitzgerald) to be worried about the excessive breadth of her hips feels comically misplaced. It seems absurd, too, that Christine should have considered Kelman the love of her life but had no idea of a way to find him. How hard can it have been to track down a Cabinet minister in 1909? None of this detracts from the performances, which are impressive.
As Nora, Gillian Anderson is poised and affecting. Fitzgerald is subtle. Eccleston, though miscast, exudes virile menace, while Stephens as Thomas is sympathetically unsympathetic, creating just the right impression of poorly armoured bluster.
Ultimately the production succeeds on the strength of the performances. But this fine group of actors, crisply marshalled by Kfir Yefet, would have been better served by a different version of the play.
Indeed there is a nagging sense that some of the cast have balked at the unnaturalness of this revision: they seem to chafe at the boundaries of the text, at times harking back tantalisingly to the true poetic and mysterious shades of Ibsen.Until 18 July. Information 0871 297 5454.
Last Updated: 9:49AM BST 20 May 2009
By and large I don't approve of rewriting the classics. I'm happy with a modern-dress Hamlet, but to have the text of Hamlet rewritten by a modern author would strike me as an outrage.
I therefore have some qualms about this production of Ibsen's great feminist drama. In the programme, poor old Henrik has to share the authorship credit with Zinnie Harris, the playwright responsible for this new version, though hardly one in the same league as Ibsen. And she has certainly taken some liberties.
The action has moved from Norway to London, the period setting advanced thirty years to 1909. Nora's husband is no longer a provincial banker but a newly appointed secretary of state in the British Government. The blackmailing loan-shark Krogstad, in Ibsen's original a humble clerk, is now Thomas's predecessor in the Cabinet post, who has been sacked by the Prime Minister for fraud; though the victim claims to have been set up by spin doctors.
For all its ingenuity, Ms Harris's new version isn't much cop. She doesn't have much of an ear for Edwardian English dialogue; I doubt whether any respectable woman in 1909 would have publicly described her late husband as "the old sod" in polite society as one character does here.
As previous productions have shown, Ibsen's portrait of a dreadful marriage, in which the wife is constantly patronised and diminished by her husband, has no need of either updating or relocation. Performed even halfway decently it always creates a shattering theatrical impact, so strong is the characterisation, so skilful the construction.
There is no doubt however that the Westminster setting strikes a chord in our present political climate and when Nora's dreadful husband proclaims, "As politicians our staple is trust. That is, after all, all we have to give to the public," Ibsen's old play suddenly seems like an up-to-the-minute satire, drawing mocking laughter from the audience.
Blessed with an outstanding company, Kfir Yefet's production delivers where it matters, though he could ratchet up the tension even more forcefully.
Gillian Anderson has come a long way from her X-Files days, and she is a superb Nora, by turns sexy, neurotic, manipulative, terrified, and in the great last act absolutely merciless as she compares her position as a wife to that of a prostitute and slams the door behind her.
Toby Stephens bitingly captures the insufferable superiority, patronising cruelty and unearned grandeur of her complacent husband – he's the very model of a modern politician in fact – and there is strong support from Tara Fitzgerald as Nora's tough-minded friend, Christopher Eccleston as the bad egg she finally redeems and Anton Lesser as the sinister Dr Rank. Nevertheless, I'd rather have seen this terrific cast in a faithful translation rather than Harris's hubristic adaptation
UK Express Review-
By Paul Callan MANY a husband reeled back in horror after the premiere of Ibsen’s marriage-shaking play in 1879.
The fellow was actually challenging the sacred values of family life by suggesting a woman could break free of the marital gilded cage. What next? They will want the vote.
In a new version of this early foray into feminism, the highly-talented playwright Zinnie Harris has moved the action from provincial Norway to political Britain at the turn of the last century.
It is a world where duty, power and hypocrisy rule (no change there then) and the heroine Nora, faces many questions about her suffocating marriage.
Gillian Anderson – aka Dana Scully of X Files fame delves deep into the tortured persona of Nora. In a frequently moving and highly sensitive performance, she presents a woman who is imprisoned by her circumstances in a world where reputation is the highest prize.
She brings out the tragic anguish of her character and the deep fears that she experiences throughout her tempestuous relationship with her politician husband.
She is petrified that he will discover she took out a fraudulent loan at a time when he was seriously ill – a loan organised for her by one of her husband’s political enemies.
She soon finds herself in a terrible blackmail situation – and one can see the mounting, white-faced desperation on Ms Anderson’s face.
This is a complex play, full of swirling emotions, and Ms Anderson quite brilliantly guides us through the whole gamut of her terror.
Toby Stephens brings a sharp-edged cruelty to his portrayal of her husband Thomas. His sudden transformation from lascivious spouse to snap-tempered bully is effective and even frightening.
Christopher Eccleston gives what must surely be one of the performances of his life as the villainous, blackmailing Kelman. He has the advantage of a roaring voice and his very height – well over six feet – only adds to the terror he instils in the hapless Nora.
Tara Fitzgerald, as Christine, is a cleverly-played counterpoint to the increasingly hysterical Nora.
And there is a delicate moment when she confronts a now near-broken Kelman, reminding him that they were once lovers.
The final scene, in which Nora finally asserts herself as a woman and as a strong individual has great strength.
Gillian Anderson projects great power in this scene – one in which she rejected her pathetic husband’s whining entreaties not to leave him.
As she had said earlier in the play: “I’m not the silly Nora everyone thinks I am.”
And off she strode, claiming victory for womankind.
CAN we keep her on stage forever please? Gillian Anderson is so good as Nora, the plaything wife who risks her reputation to save her husband in this new adaptation of Ibsen's electrifying 19th-century domestic drama, that it seems a sin to stuff her back on screen.
Writer Zinnie Harris has moved the setting from Norway to London, 1909, just before the Suffragette movement struck out in earnest.
Nora's controlling banker husband is now cabinet minister Thomas (Toby Stephens), and their new house was previously owned by Neil (Christopher Eccleston), a disgraced MP who lent money to Nora and is now blackmailing her in a frantic bid to salvage his career.
This is a terrific production. Set in the towering, empty library of their house, it already looks like a wreckage. Harris's decision to move the action, with its tangle over honesty and reputation, to the political world couldn't have come at a better time, as regular snorts of laughter from the audience show.
Eccleston's Kelman lacks sufficient menace, flailing around like an aggressive scarecrow, but Stephens as Thomas is terrifying - alternately tolerant and monstrously authoritarian, utterly failing to see the point of Nora's actions or, indeed, love.
Anderson's Nora, a mischievous, gossipy coquette, is more of a survivor than in previous adaptations. With the Suffragettes on the horizon, there's more hope for her than in past productions, which have sent Thomas's ‘mouse’ into the world with nothing but a refusal to stay as a doll.
Messing about with Ibsen has become a bit of a trend lately, and playwright Zinnie Harris follows a misfired update (not hers) of Hedda Gabler at the Gate with a not totally convincing re-write of A Doll's House as an Edwardian political sob story with new furnishings and fittings.
In Ibsen, the small-town worlds of finance and the law are crucially intertwined, so that Nora’s forged signature to secure repayments on her husband Torvald’s medical bills assumes a nightmare significance; the barrister Krogstad knows she won’t want to lose face in the locality.
Harris over-complicates the story by giving it a national political edge and having Thomas (ie, Torvald) and Nora Vaughan move into Neil Kelman’s (ie, Krogstad’s) former house, a great booming barn in Anthony Ward’s design, with rows of empty curved shelves and piles of packing cases. A huge Christmas tree stands forlornly in the corner.
Thomas is newly appointed to the cabinet, Kelvin thrown out of office on possibly spurious allegations of fraud. Nora has had twins (Abby Negus and William Nye, the opening night pair, look about eight years old in this version) not three children. Gillian Anderson plays Nora as a fragile beauty, cornered by her own protective instincts and cruelly abused by Toby Stephens’ violently unreasonable Thomas.
Despite a slack, anachronistic text - it doesn’t sound much like Ibsen, nor is it all that Edwardian - the acting in Kfir Yefet’s production is outstanding. Anderson’s Nora is affectionately known as “mouse” by Thomas, and she has a wonderful quality of quivering, jumpy sensitivity, unleashing all sorts of pent up frustrations in the great tarantella scene, her dress transforming blues into mauve under Hugh Vanstone’s expressive lighting.
Anderson and Stephens - a devilishly handsome couple they make, too - are bravely complemented by Christopher Eccleston’s bitterly vengeful Lancastrian Kelman and Anton Lesser’s vulpine, bespectacled Dr Rank, unexpectedly teased by Nora with a pair of black stockings she’s found under the Christmas tree.
The quality casting extends to Tara Fitzgerald’s Christine Lyle (Mrs Lynde in Ibsen), a resolute best friend to both Nora and Kelman, with distinct echoes of her own vinegary Nora at the Birmingham Rep some years ago; and Maggie Wells’ bustling housemaid, who seems to have wandered in from Upstairs Downstairs.
Everyone is busy giving Ibsen a makeover. Samuel Adamson recently transposed Little Eyolf to Kent in the mid-1950s. Now Zinnie Harris sets Ibsen's most famous domestic drama in 1909 London. The result is not as dumb as the National's Mrs Affleck and at least gets Gillian Anderson back on the stage. But it still feels like a diluted version of a great play.
As ever, we see Nora breaking out of her domestic cage in order to achieve self-determination. But Harris has crucially changed the social context. Nora's husband, Thomas Vaughan, is no longer a bank manager but a newly appointed cabinet minister. Nora has forged a signature on a private loan in order to help her husband recuperate from a mental breakdown rather than, as in Ibsen, a physical illness. Most radically Ibsen's blackmailing lawyer, Krogastad, who advanced Nora the money, has here been turned into Neil Kelman: a disgraced politician who wants Nora to use her influence on her husband to restore his public fortunes.
I presume Harris's intention is raise the dramatic stakes and show the continuing nature of female oppression. The actual result of her tinkering is to make Ibsen's play resemble a dressy melodrama on the lines of Wilde's An Ideal Husband.
By turning a play about domestic politics into one that embraces national reputations, she also undermines Ibsen's co-relation of money and marital power and makes the plot seem implausible: if Kelman is really guilty of fraud, you wonder how on earth he can hope to return to the political arena. And when at one point he cries: "I've screwed the Vaughans," you feel his language is hardly consistent with the period.
If Ibsen's play spasmodically survives, it is because Kfir Yefet's production retains its sexual tension. Anderson's Nora is not exactly a doll-wife but a woman whose hold over her husband is physical and who urges him to congress on the carpet even when the doorbell is ringing. She also toys with her ailing admirer Dr Rank (an incisive Anton Lesser), dangling her black stockings in front of him. But while Anderson captures Nora's dismay at Thomas's refusal to share responsibility for her past actions, she cannot be blamed for the fact that the ending lacks its original impact: by 1909 the concept of the independent woman was not as radical as in 1879.
Within the script's limitations Toby Stephens is excellent as Thomas: overbearing and suitably self-righteous. Tara Fitzgerald, herself a former Nora, is also very good as Christine. And even though I could hardly believe in Kelman as an Edwardian politician, Christopher Eccleston lends him the right anguished aggression. But if you are going to rewrite Ibsen, you need to go the whole hog as Thomas Ostermeier did in his recent Berlin update. Here Harris has simply fiddled around with the original and produced something that is neither flesh, fish, fowl nor pure Ibsen.
Clever and prescient, then, of Zinnie Harris to turn Ibsen’s banker and wife into a politician newly brought into the cabinet.
Thus, the talk of fraud and of “the only thing a politician has is trust” is more timely than can possibly have been hoped for.
Of course, it makes little difference to the intent of the play - a thorn in the side of the establishment when it was originally written in the late 19th century as it depicted women as having their own minds and winning despite the perceived immorality of their actions.
This production still retains some of that power. Gillian Anderson’s Nora, the ‘good wife’ of Toby Stephen’s upstanding politician Thomas, has a Hepburn-esque whine in her voice (Audrey not Katharine) and plays well the ditsy hausfrau.
Her English accent (her original accent - although born in the US she lived in London until 11) has always been more convincing than her American, and here she delivers lines as if from a forties movie. Somehow she gets away with it, possibly because she draws down deep from within her character to find the passion, anger and strength to make her departure a powerful scene.
Stephens’ Thomas has the infuriating self-righteousness that David Cameron probably parades around at home. He is both in love with and detached from his wife, a marriage to his job that makes his eventual undoing somehow seem inevitable. Stephens achieves the balance. His breakdown is heartfelt and defines all that his character has done before.
Eccleston’s Kelman, here an MP whose career has been destroyed in the wake of fraud allegations, is appropriately out of place. His thick Manchester accent a pewter tankard among the cut-glass voices of the rest of the cast. But this extends to his relationship with the audience. He plays him brash and punchy but there is at no time any sympathy for the character and he fails to generate a third dimension. Not even when Tara Fitzgerald, as the widowed Christine, declares her love for the man she might have saved from breaking. Christine is a stiff old maid, whose life has made her elderly before her time, and while Fitzgerald lets her warm heart beat through, the declaration of love for Kelman never quite rings true. It gives the final act of the play a slightly cobbled together feel.
Anton Lesser too, never quite conveys the lasciviousness of Doctor Rank, despite obtusely reminding the audience that “tuberculosis of the spine” was a euphemism for syphilis.
Kfir Yefet seems to have concentrated too much on the two principals leaving the rest of the cast to try their own devices. It leaves blurred edges around the tightly-focused centre.
Playwright Zinnie Harris could surely not have predicted the exquisite timing of her version of Ibsen’s famous play A Doll’s House.
In setting the Norwegian playwright’s classic in an Edwardian England reeling from a political scandal, she had already provided enough resonances with today’s financial meltdown, but the expenses scandal currently consuming the news adds an extra level of resonance that had last night’s audience laughing when Thomas says “all politicians have to offer the public is trust”.
In Harris’s version, Thomas is a recently promoted politician who has moved into a government-owned house with his wife Nora and their two children. It is the same house recently vacated by Neil Kelman, who lost his home and his position in government after being accused of fraud. Desperate to regain some credibility and save his career, Kelman blackmails Nora into persuading her husband to defend him to the press and parliament.
The plot, therefore, hangs on the reason Nora can be blackmailed: some years ago she borrowed money from Kelman without Thomas’s knowledge – forging a signature in the process – in order that she could pay to take Thomas, who had suffered a breakdown, on a rehabilitating trip to Italy.
But the plot is almost beside the point; it provides a framework for a study of marriage and the role of women in a pre-suffrage era. Gillian Anderson, luminous in a succession of floor-length gowns, plays Nora as a woman used to being perceived as silly and valued only for her physical appearance, but there is clearly more to her than that. As she tells her childhood friend Christine (Tara Fitzgerald), she is proud of the fact she saved her husband’s life and the resourcefulness she has shown in paying back Kelman’s loan. Taking the loan, she says, was “what a man would do”.
Anderson makes Nora thoroughly likeable, showing us a canny side to her that hovers beneath the surface naivety. She obviously plays up to her girlish charms in the presence of Thomas (Toby Stephens), knowing his physical desire for her is the basis of their relationship. Patronising and domineering, Thomas treats Nora as his play thing, his “mouse”, someone to be protected and provided for.
Kfir Yefet’s production is played out entirely in the house’s library, designed by Anthony Ward, where empty bookshelves line the walls and half-opened packing crates show a family not yet settled in their new home. As the plot progresses, Nora cowers from Kelman’s (Christopher Eccleston) fury in the room, and receives Dr Rank (Anton Lesser), her dying friend who gives her an escape route from her situation that, admirably, she does not take.
Unlike Thomas, both Dr Rank and Kelman see that there is more to Nora than a pretty face, and, indeed, less to Thomas than the importance he bestows upon himself.
A Doll’s House is also about love. Christine, the drably-dressed, penniless widow who married for money, believes in it. Kelman, after raging against Nora with an imposing physicality, is softened by it. But where love should be – in a marriage which has borne two young children – there is only its image. In making her final, famous, decision, Nora shatters the illusion for good. The tragedy is that the strong, decisive, independent woman who emerges does not consider herself a good enough role model for her children.
Scully meets Doctor in Ibsen play
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News
Gillian Anderson of The X-Files fame and former Doctor Who actor Christopher Eccleston have joined forces to appear in a London production of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House.
The result will no doubt appeal to sci-fi fans who may have secretly wondered what might happen if FBI agent Dana Scully ever crossed paths with a certain Time Lord.
More striking than its eye-catching casting, however, is the way this Donmar Warehouse revival brings a topical edge to this 19th-Century classic.
How? By making Norwegian banker Torvald Helmer - renamed Thomas Vaughan in Zinnie Harris's adaptation - a Westminster politician facing a career-wrecking scandal.
It is a bold move that cannot help but reflect the current uproar over MPs' expense claims and financial underhandedness.
One suspects, though, the play would strike chords of recognition even if its launch did not coincide with such a national cause celebre.
Since the X-Files TV series came to an end in 2002, Anderson has carved a new niche for herself as a star of British films and the West End stage.
Earlier this year she featured as an "honorary Brit" on a list of the UK's 20 most powerful women in theatre compiled by Harper's Bazaar magazine.
She was also seen as Dickens' Lady Dedlock in the BBC's Bleak House serial, a performance that landed her a Bafta nomination.
The period gowns she wears in A Doll's House recall that series, but her character could hardly be more different.
Flighty and girlish, Nora Vaughan is a trophy wife who lives to please her minister husband - played with a preening, patrician arrogance by onetime Bond villain Toby Stephens.
In truth, however, Nora has been keeping a secret from Thomas that could bring their comfortable middle-class existence crashing about their ears.
Unbeknownst to him, Nora forged her late father's signature to secure a loan from Thomas's bitter rival Neil Kelman, played by Eccleston.
When he arrives at her home on Christmas Eve threatening to expose her, she finds herself in an impossible situation.
Traditionally, this marital intrigue has formed a preamble to Nora's climactic realisation that her life is an illusory sham.
Armed with this discovery, she makes an empowering decision to leave her husband and two children that shocked audiences when the play was first staged in London in 1889.
This climax, strikingly staged by Israeli-born director Kfir Yefet, still exerts a dramatic force in the Donmar's intimate studio space.
Perhaps inevitably, though, it is Stephens' essay in rank hypocrisy and self-serving venality that leaves the strongest impression.
Eccleston's role is a minor one by comparison, though he convincingly portrays a desperate man fighting for survival in his relatively brief appearances.
The strong cast is augmented by Tara Fitzgerald as Nora's impoverished friend Christine and Anton Lesser as a doctor stoically facing a terminal illness.
Leading from the front, though, is Gillian Anderson in a compelling performance that could well see her shortlisted for further accolades.
Intriguingly, the programme lists Ffion Hague - wife of shadow foreign secretary William - as the production's historical advisor.
Her husband's Westminster colleagues have until 18 July to catch a play they may see more of their world in than they would like to admit.
It's a tasty cast that brings us Zinnie Harris's new version of Ibsen's A Doll's House at the Donmar.
Gillian Anderson plays Nora, the woman who risks her reputation to save her husband, played by Toby Stephens. Christopher Ecclestone, Tara Fitzgerald and Anton Lesser make up the rest.
Those familiar with the play should note: in this new version, the action's been moved to 1909, and this is no longer about an oppressive bank manager in small-town Norway. Torvald Helmer is now Thomas Vaughan (Stephens), a smug recruit to the British Cabinet. As a result, A Doll's House's themes of debt, fraud, trust and deceit take on an interesting, topical flavour.
Sadly, the group of students behind us were a bit miffed; presumably this wasn't the A Level text they were hoping to see.
"As politicians, our staple is trust," cries the increasingly noxious Thomas in Kfir Yefet's eerily timely production, producing knowing titters from the audience. Some may feel the true feminist edge of Ibsen's original is blunted in this new version, with its new theme of political corruption; we rather liked the nice twist of a British version with the suffragist Christine (Fitzgerald), and a right wing Dr Rank (Lesser).
Gillian Anderson's Nora is still required to make one of drama's most devastating transitions. A loving mother and a wife, Anderson's Nora is beautifully playful, flirty and childlike in one of the most gorgeous blue dresses we've ever seen. As Nora's imperfect world tightens around her, and the tension in this expertly crafted play builds, Anderson proves herself more than capable of the role.
The serene blue of Nora's dress and her eyes is overtaken by panicked black and red when she dances her dramatic tarantella, "for her life". When she finally comes to leave, the shocking slammed door of the original still shocks today.
But it was Christopher Ecclestone we were eager to see. He played the disgraced MP Neil Kelman (Krogstad from the original) as that same manic Mancunian he seems to be hired to do these days; all flared nostrils, bared teeth, hands pulling desperately through his Hitler-esque haircut. He was excellent, but we were longing to see him do something a bit different.
We heartily recommend that any fans of the cast, the play, the Donmar Warehouse, or theatre itself go and see it.
"But what good's that?" we hear you cry. "Everything at the Donmar is always completely sold out!" Which is where we let you into a little-known secret. Ten seats for every performance are released at 10.30 each morning; there are 20 spaces for standing. Then there are potential returns. We queued from 9.15 on Saturday and were one of about 15 people to get seats. Take a book, a coffee, chat to your fellow theatrephiles; it's a risk, but we assure you that it's worth it.
Thanks Tina on Haven!
Fuente: Italian Fansite.