Spoiler Alert: The Examiner’s review of A Doll’s House

A renovated ‘Doll’s House’ premieres in the newly renovated Studio Theatre.

by , Detroit Theater Examiner

Original article here.

A Doll's House at the Studio Theatre

It is fitting that WSU’s inaugural performance in the newly renovated Studio Theatre should be a play by the Father of Modernism, Henrick Ibsen. Director Aaron Westlake’s thoroughly modern, unconventional interpretation of A Doll’s House, plays October 20-29, 2011 as part of the PhD Directors Series designed to prepare scholars for a career in theatre.

Westlake’s vision – a steampunk mash-up of Victorian and contemporary idioms, costumes, scenery, music and even dance – underscores the ironies that made this play so shocking to 19th Century audiences. The opening night audience clearly enjoyed Westlake’s ‘creative licentious’ approach to Ibsen’s classic story of personal discovery and independence.

Expect big choices, big risks…we’re not playing things safe,’ says Westlake.

Although audience members should come ready for a night of experimental creativity, the essential message of  A Doll’s House  speaks just as powerfully today as it did nearly 150 years ago, when Ibsen challenged conventional thinking regarding the roles of men and women in the marriage contract. This is essentially the story of Nora Helmer, ‘the perfect wife,’ who opens the play by equating money with freedom and ends the play by discovering that freedom has much more to do with self-knowledge and comes at a dear, dear price.

The talented cast embraced Westlake’s avant-garde interpretation.  Ashley Shamoon gives us an over-the-top Nora who rides an emotional roller-coaster into the final scene – when she can no longer act the part of a happy little wife.  Robbie Dwight (who was so strong as Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird) plays Torvold, Nora’s patronizing and self-absorbed husband, whose ingrained double standards keep him from seeing the true Nora.  Solid performances from the rest of the cast include: Andy Gaitens as Dr. Rank, Assata Haki as Anna Marie, Robbie Hammond Krogstad, and Malvina Mirowski as Kristine.

Aaron Westlake’s production staff includes: Nick Boyd (Stage Manager), Mercedes Coley (Stage Manager Mentor), Leanne Turrell (Scenic Designer), Fred Florkowski (Technical Director), Alana Walker (Costume Designer), Anne Suchyta (Costume Mentor),  Alan Devlin (Lighting Designer), Lisa Berg (Property Master) and Patrick Pozezinski (Publicist).

A Doll’s House runs at The Studio Theatre (located downstairs in the Hilberry Theatre building at 4743 Cass Avenue) through October 29, with performances on Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m.  Tickets are available at the box office Tuesday – Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. or one hour before performances. Tickets can also be ordered online at the theatre’s website or over the phone at 313-577-2972. Regular tickets are available for $12, and $10 discounted tickets are available to students, seniors ages 62+, Wayne State University faculty, staff and Alumni Association members. Group discounts are also available. For more information, please visit the theatre’s website.

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