A Doll’s House

‘A Doll’s House’ is Susie Conte’s magnificent adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic. Ms Conte has skilfully reduced this much-loved book to a single character and only 40 minutes of performance time; yet the quality of Ibsen’s work is retained in every line.

Presented by Tempest Theatre, Perth’s ‘fierce, fiery and feminist’ theatre company, comes this amazing performance (more suitable for adults). This is not simply a blatant bra burning exercise, Tempest are far more sophisticated as they lay the undisputable facts of inequality and poor male reasoning subtly before their audience. This memorable adaptation can be seen nightly at 7.30 from the 28th until the 31st October in the Studio Theatre of the Subiaco Arts Centre, 180 Hamersley Road, Subiaco. There is one matinée at 2.00 pm on Saturday.

The scene:           Present day, although the relevance covers centuries.

The set:                It is Christmas time in the Helmer household. A tree twinkles. Parcels are under the branches. A quality rug covers the floor. Nearby is a winged armchair, a small drinks table stocked with a silver tray and a vase with a dozen fresh red roses.

The lighting and sound design and operation are by Suzie Conte.

               Nora Helmer is dressed in a leaf green silk dress and wearing exquisite jewellery. The clock chimes five. She sips on a glass of wine, before filling and laying out the Christmas stockings of her three children. Nora recalls the last 31 hours in her home of the past eight years.

               She recollects the memorable moments in this beautiful and luxurious home, which had gradually become her prison as her freedom frittered away. The voices in her head are those of her Papa, a firm strong man whom she loved. Then there was the caring man to whom she owed so much – and yet truly, so little.

This is Nora’s moment in time. A suspended breath. A door slams.

Once or twice a year you get a play that just grabs you, holding you rigid for the whole performance. This was a prime example. The whole production directed by Suzie Conte and acted by Siobhán Dow-Hall was pure quality and must surely be in line for theatre awards.

The dialogue was delivered at a perfect pace. Slowly, gently releasing new information of Nora’s past life. An in-depth examination of this woman’s choice to abandon her treasured children, in order to survive. Nora’s face had a smile, but it was that of someone with a nervous desire to be happy. Her warm eyes showed the lines of tiredness and strain. Her lids flickered as her eyes oscillated, searching the room for some love and consolation as the tears welled in her eyes. Nora’s total fatigue and hopelessness was in every second of the performance. Siobhán absolutely nailed the wife’s strength and reasoning whilst fraught by internal trauma.

A stunning and moving play that will be remembered and quoted to actors as ‘the line’.

The seating is again controlled by COVID and although ‘Sold Out’ for each show, there might be the odd seat left.