A caged bird frees herself in APT's 'A Doll's House'

Posted August 28, 2019

Dh Cap Times

By Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times, August 25, 2019

It’s late in “A Doll’s House” when Nora starts to spin out. In a deep red housedress buttoned halfway up her neck, she whirls downstage center, slamming a tambourine so hard against her hip she’s likely to have a bruise.

This is Nora’s tarantella, the Italian folk dance said to cure a deadly tarantula bite. Crazed and panting as the music plays, Nora is dancing to save her own life.

Keira Fromm directs an intensely physical, sensual production of “Doll’s House,” running in repertory through Oct. 6 at American Players Theatre. A new translation (2013) by Simon Stephens gives Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 drama a brighter clarity and sharper focus.

Nora’s transformation from twittering powder puff in the first scene to a conflicted woman in the final one may seem inevitable, 100-plus years and three waves of feminism later.

But when Nora bustles onstage with her Christmas packages, neither she nor her husband Torvald has any idea how precarious their bourgeois Nordic lives really are, and how quickly a bit of honesty might undermine them.

The Helmers, embodied by American Players core acting company members Kelsey Brennan and Nate Burger, are like a late-19th century power couple, the promising prefect married to the head cheerleader nine years later.

They have three happy kids, attentive staff, and Torvald has just landed a prestigious job at a bank. The promotion makes Nora as happy as Billie Dawn was at APT last summer — blithe and unquestioning.

Read the full review here!