The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
A Doll's House

By Amanda Cooper

Maude Mitchell as Nora, Mark Povinelli as Torvald
Maude Mitchell as Nora, Mark Povinelli as Torvald
(Photo: Richard Termine)
This newest incarnation of Ibsen's A Doll's House is theater veteran Lee Breuer's latest creation. Co-founder and co-artistic director of Mabou Mines, a staple, legendary experimental theater company, Breuer has brought his off-beat, humorous yet dark style to this production at St. Ann's Warehouse. The play is traditionally played with a feminist take as we see Nora, the main character being oppressed by the men in her life: her husband Torvald, the banker she owes money to, and Dr. Rank, Torvald's best friend. The ending is no secret -- Nora slams the door on her oppressed life.

If you are looking for a straightforward incarnation, you're not going to find it in this production. The female characters are played by tall, strong women. The male characters are all played by small, stately men -- little people who measure under four and a half feet. It makes for a double entendre to watch these big women forced to conform to a small world, with even the house made to fit the men. You see why they psychologically feel a need to have control over these towering women.

The acting of this offbeat production is superb. Maude Mitchell as Nora is incredibly detailed in her movements, yet still manages to give an impromptu vibe in her performance. Mark Povinelli as Torvald has a stage presence multiple times larger than his physical presence. Helene, played at the performance I saw by understudy Margaret Lancaster (both she and the regularly cast Lisa Harris are largely pregnant) is humorously sarcastic as the family's maid. Rounding out the women of the play is Honora Fergusson, playing distraught Kristine with appropriate desperation. Kristopher Medina as Nils Krogstadt, the sneaky banker appropriately slides back and forth from slimy and sorrowful. Rounding out the core cast is Ricardo Gil as Dr. Rank, whose silent suffering is heartwrenching.

There is no question that except for a few microphone problems the production values of this show are beyond solid. The creative team -- from choreographers to puppeteers to opera singers to props artisans -- has worked long and hard, and it has paid off splendidly . Carefully choreographed moments were sometimes saturated with lights, sound, and drop cloths -- not to mention an impromptu puppet sequence (a Mabou Mines specialty) with an operatic chorus in the background! All beautiful, but I couldn't help but wonder if the goals could not have been reached with a shorter and less complicated evening.

As with much experimental theater the real jewels here are the small moments of surprise which turn out to be the images that linger in the mind. This Dollhouse has its glorious share of these snippets my favorites being when the lovely piano player becomes insulted by the play and when Nora pulls out that first macaroon. In order not to spoil any surprises for you, I'll just mention that there's an unforgettable shocker during her last monologue.

From Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, with snippets from The Vikings at Helgaland
Directed and Adapted by Lee Breuer
Cast: WITH: Maude Mitchell (Nora Helmer), Mark Povinelli (Torvald Helmer), Kristopher Medina (Nils Krogstadt), Honora Fergusson (Kristine Linde), Ricardo Gil (Dr. Rank), Lisa Harris (Helene), Ning Yu (the Pianist), Tate Katie Mitchell (Emmy Helmer), Zachary Houppert Nunns and Matthew Forker (alternating as Ivar Helmer) and Sophie Forker (Dream Figure).
Music by: Eve Beglarian, performed by Ning Yu
Puppetry: Jane Catherine Shaw
Choreography: Martha Clarke, Eamonn Farrell, Clove Galilee, Erik Liberman, Jane Catherine Shaw and Norman Snow
Lighting Design: Mary Louise Geiger
Costume Design: Meganne George
Sound Design: Edward Costa
Running Time: 3 hours, including two intermissions
St. Ann's Warehouse, 38 Water Street - DUMBO 718.254.8779
November 8 - December 7th, opening night is November 19
Tuesday - Sunday at 7:30PM, Sunday at 4PM -- $22.50 - 27.50
Reviewed by Amanda Cooper based on Nov 19h performance

Mendes at the Donmar
Our Review

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide

Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam

Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers

The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from