Following hot on the heels of the Donmar Theatre's star-studded effort, the much smaller, much younger Candyking Theatre Company have turned their hands to a new translation of this Ibsen favourite. This 1879 tale of betrayal, revelation and self-discovery features Torvald, an ambitious banker (yes, banker) and Nora, his seemingly doll-like, submissive wife. When Torvald discovers that Nora once committed fraud, albeit to help him, his reaction changes their lives irrevocably as Nora finds the illusion of her perfect life shattered and decides to leave him.
Kate Dion-Richard as Nora is captivating, oozing stage presence and integrity despite a few slips in accent. The volte-face between act one's vain, immature Nora and act two's heroically honest and dignified Nora is a difficult one to pull off, but Dion-Richard manages to do it with some style and succeeds in evoking both sympathy and respect. Brett Harris's Torvald is suitably sleezy and deluded, with Jose Domingos' calm, melancholic Dr Rank giving a good counterpoint. Domingos stands out as the most seasoned performer with a slickness that isn't quite there with the others, however all are invested enough in what they're doing for it to not really matter.
The intimate setting of the Greenwich Playhouse plays into the main metaphor's hands by making you feel as though you, along with Nora, are trapped in the eponymous prison of superficiality imposed by the controlling social climber Torvald. The elegant Victorian set, with a two-thirds scale blue Chesterfield sofa and tiny fireplace, highlights the sophistication and yet suffocation that characterise Nora's life.
It's easy to forget how unthinkable Nora's actions would have been in Ibsen's time as his victory of honesty over delusion today looks more like a happy ending than he probably ever intended. Clearly Ibsen's work does not have the same subversive, groundbreaking effect it once did, however Candyking's faithful portrayal successfully preserves some of the contextual significance of Nora's choice. The more enduring skill is that of Ibsen's playwriting and his use of melodrama, suspense and pace - coupled with some strong performances from Candyking - still make this a compelling piece of theatre.
A Doll's House by Candyking Theatre Company
Greenwich Playhouse until 13 September
Tue-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4pm. £12/£10