SheCan Theatre

Review: Nora: A Doll’s House talking to Amaka Okafor on stage at Young Vic

This version of the 1879 classic of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is adapted by Stef Smith who was inspired by how “radical, progressive and brave it was to write this play in the late 1800’s”. Smith describes the process as taking it out of Ibsen’s hands and holding it with her own leading to her re-imaging of the play to have 3 actors play Nora each from different periods. 2018, 1968 and 1918 each 50 years apart, each she describes as a “seminal moment for being a woman in the world”.

Talking to Amaka Okafor she said. “My particular Nora is in 1918, we have 3 different Nora’s one from 1918, one from 1968 and one from 2018. Looking at the same story through the lens of those three different time periods and looking at where we are in terms of a woman’s journey”.

She continued on what resonated with her. ...”the constant juggle between what you want and what your family need. And if what you need is as important as what your family need”. Watch the full video interview here on Facebook. 

In 1918 women were first allowed to vote, in 1968 abortion was legalised and in 2018 the world was rocked by the #Metoo scandal and women were finally comfortable to challenge sexual abuse and these are the concerns of the writer. When the play was performed in 1879 it was in fact scandalous for a women to leave her husband and the audiences were in uproar, far to forward thinking for that time.

8. (l-r) Luke Norris, Natalie Klamar, Anna Russell-Martin and Amaka Okafor in Nora_ A Doll's House (c) Marc Brenner
8. (l-r) Luke Norris, Natalie Klamar, Anna Russell-Martin and Amaka Okafor in Nora_ A Doll’s House (c) Marc Brenner

The core narrative of this adaptation remains true to Ibsen’s text, Nora has three children and a terrible secret that causes her relentless worry. Each Nora (Amaka Okafor Nora 3/Christine 2), Anna Russell-Martin (Nora 1/Christine 3 and Natalie Klamar (Nora 2/Christine 1) play to their strengths switching smoothly between Christines and Noras owning the “manners” of the women they play, their behaviour dictated by what was expected of them at the given time. The multi- role play highlights the skilled actors on stage. Just as quickly as putting a bright colored womens nylon scarf on her shoulder each Nora becomes Christine.

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Press Night  Nora 1, Nora 3 and Nora 2 in respective order copyright ALT Africa

Luke Morris’s task is to play the oppressive, tyrannical husband, at times bringing menace as he switches betweens eras, spitting and swearing in 2018, he refuses to take responsibility in 1968 for his wife’s demise and mocks the right to vote in 1918.

The play explores women’s rights, a feminist conversation starter on how much things have changed and how much we still did things to change. A thoroughly enjoyable piece with all round great performances.

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Press Night Cast and writer Stef Smith (c) Alt africa

Nora: A Doll’s House at the Young Vic    Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 8LZ. Tickets £10-£43, until 21 March 2020.

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