Slam that door, Nora! Anthony Page's award-winning London production of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House opened to much acclaim April 2 at the Belasco Theatre.
Janet McTeer, supporting actor Owen Teale and director Page all received London Olivier nominations for their work in the drama, with McTeer taking the trophy -- a surprise to people who assumed Diana Rigg's work in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? would win the day. Jan Maxwell plays the soul-sick Kristine; John Carlisle is the dying Dr. Rank. (Carlisle has been out ill since April 3. Until he returns Monday, April 7, understudy Kent Broadhurst (After Play) has assumed the role.) Also appearing in A Doll's House are Peter Gowen as the tormented (and tormenting) Krogstad, and John Attavino, Liam Aiken, Pau Tiesler and Rose Stockton in minor roles.
British producer Bill Kenwright (An Ideal Husband) had to resolve his issues with Actor's Equity Association on taking this London cast of A Doll's House over to repeat their roles in New York. The casting problem had to do with Equity agreeing to let the four lead players come to our shores for a 12-week run, whereas Kenwright needed 18 weeks to break even. They ultimately worked out a deal for 18 weeks, with a closing date of July 27.
A Doll's House has been newly adapted by Frank McGuinness (Someone Who'll Watch Over Me). Deirdre Clancy has designed the set, Peter Mumford the lighting, Scott Myers and John Owens the sound. Jason Carr has composed the background score.
"There's nothing unsafe about it," said McTeer of the production in her conversation with Newsday's Allan Wallach (March 30). "It's sexy and utterly raw...incredibly naturalistic and so incredibly real. [Nora's walkout] becomes "just this hideously frightening, painful kind of experience. I think that's what audiences in London found so terribly shocking. We wanted to find a young Torvald, because it's a very sexy, very together kind of relationship that they have, very symbiotic. Owen [Teale] and I...have this fantastic chemistry together on stage." McTeer says audiences shouldn't expect a Victorian-style drama. "[Ibsen wrote that] nothing should sound literary. He was very cross when it was taken over as a feminist play, because it's not a feminist play; it's a humanist play, but you can draw feminist conclusions from it."
The mid-size 1,018-seat Belasco Theatre was one of the few Broadway houses not booked to the hilt this season and seems an appropriate venue for this intimate, 1879 tale of a young woman, Nora, tired of being pampered and patronized by her husband, who makes a fateful decision to take responsibility for her own life.
McTeer's London credits include 1993's Much Ado About Nothing and 1995's Simpatico.
For tickets and information on the 18-week run of A Doll's House call (212) 239-6200. You can also order tickets on Playbill On-Line.