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Westfield High School A Doll House

By • Nov 17th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

It is Christmas Eve and all appears right in the home of Nora and Torvald Helmer, but life is not as perfect as it seems in Westfield High School’s production of A Doll House.

Written by Henrik Ibsen, A Doll House was originally set in an 1870’s Norwegian parlor. The play made its Broadway debut at the Palmer’s Theatre in 1889 on December 21st. Westfield took an American twist to the play and set it in suburban America during the 1950’s, when the oppression of women was a household staple. Along with this transition in setting came a translation in text by Rick Davis and Brian Johnston.

The play revolves around the marriage of Nora and Torvald which deteriorates throughout the play until Nora leaves her husband the day after Christmas. We learn that Nora borrowed money from Krogstad in order to support the family while Torvald was ill, but now he is threatening to tell her husband how she went behind his back. Friends become involved and secrets are revealed until finally Nora has had enough and she is forced to break the cycle.

The actors expressed the subtle nuances required by each character. Through their connections with their own characters, the actors were able to create realistic and meaningful relationships with one another.

While Jeremy Rommel (Torvald) was the patronizing jerk any feminist would want to smack, Leslie Roth (Nora) brought the subtle characteristics of Nora’s personality to the forefront. During the third act, Rommel came into his own, displaying the many dimensions of Torvald’s personality. From cruel rage to sobbing pleas, his motivations were evident in his physicality and facial expressions. Roth’s gradual transition from a frivolous skylark to a rational woman seemed natural and unforced. From acting to dancing, her tarantella showcased her talent as a dancer but did not stray from the Italian style of the dance allowing the moment to enhance rather than distract.

Mrs. Linde (Eden Volbrecht) and Dr. Rank (Alex Kruszewski) remained honest and human creating characters who stood in contrast with the Helmers. Kruszewski’s rasping voice went right along with his gritty wit, but his warmth and concern shined through making his somber character all the more convincing. Volbrecht portrayed Mrs. Linde as a guarded widow, but threw all reservations out the window when she came face to face with her former lover Krogstad.

The amount of teamwork that went into this show was evident. From the excellent volume control to the subtle yet dramatic lighting every aspect fell into place. The costumes looked right at home in the two story set which had all the cozy trimmings you would expect in a 1950’s home. The props crew provided the finishing touches, making sure there was never a shortage of macaroons.

Westfield’s production of A Doll House shattered the cookie cutter mold of the traditional 1950’s family and forced everyone to contemplate whether “The most wonderful thing of all” is really that wonderful.

by Chelsea Bracci of South County Secondary

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