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Nora: This Isn’t Barbie’s Dream House

Ingmar Bergman’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House reveals all at Westport Country Playhouse until August 2!

L-R: Lucas Hall and Liv Rooth in “Nora,” Ingmar Bergman’s adaption of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” directed by David Kennedy, at Westport Country Playhouse, now playing through August 2.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

With her shiny locks, carefully made-up facial features, and flowy gold dress (cinched at the waist with a shiny ribbon, not unlike the Christmas packages under the tree that twinkles to her right in the opening scene), it is difficult not to mistake Liv Rooth’s title character for the iconic blond plastic plaything. As she preps her house for the holidays, passionately kisses her Ken-doll-esque husband Torvald (Lucas Hall), and declares, “Isn’t it great to be alive?!”, Nora Helmer appears to have the perfect marriage, the perfect family, and as a result, the perfect home.

However, leave it to an Ibsen classic revamped by Academy Award winner Ingmar Bergman to prompt some major soul-searching. Directed by Westport Country Playhouse veteran David Kennedy, Nora makes the chilling suggestion that the picture-perfect present is often shattered by the inescapable past and that “good intentions” are merely a means of convincing ourselves of the lies we live.

This is certainly the case for Nora, stunningly portrayed by Rooth, who has clearly worked with Kennedy before at WCP. Rooth’s performance is about as unafraid as her character is scared stiff; it is revealed that early on in their marriage, Nora committed a crime to save her husband. However, her seemingly moral motives are confronted by the very real, very present, and very pressing specters whose words haunt her throughout the play.

There’s Mrs. Linde (Stephanie Janssen), an old friend from her schooldays who chides Nora for not being honest with Torvald about what she’s done. There’s Dr. Rank (LeRoy McClain), the neighborhood friend who stops by the Helmer residence every day – and it is not because his feelings toward Nora are simply neighborly. And of course, there’s Nils Krogstad (Shawn Fagan), who blackmails Nora for the very same sin that has ruined his own reputation.       

Stuck inside a metaphorical crowned jewel of a set (a literally unfinished wooden house), Nora seldom leaves the stage; like a doll, she is meant to entertain. Her pursuit of putting on a convincing show for the characters who move in and out of the house as they please brings her to a breaking point that is not to be missed by Ibsen play first-timers or die-hard fans.

Be sure to experience Bergman’s revealing recreation of Ibsen’s chilling classic before August 2!

Westport Country Playhouse
25 Powers Ct, Westport; (203) 227-4177

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