Tanika Gupta’s decision to take Henrik Ibsen’s classic, ‘A Doll’s House’ and set it in colonialized Calcutta (Kolkata) India gave a new breath of freshness to this timeless piece. Ibsen’s couple, In this version, Nora and Torvald Helmer are now replaced by Indian-born, Niru (Anjana Vasan) and Tom Helmer (Elliot Cowan), and instead of the homey setting of middle-class Norway (or England) we are immersed into the warm glow of an Indian courtyard.
But this wasn’t the only note-worthy changes that this culture swap brought about as we found ourselves engaging with a much more feisty Niru who charged the stage with her frantic yet playful presence and a Tom who teetered precariously between well-balanced and desperately passionate in his desire that all things must be done the correct and ‘English’ way.
Expectedly, the woven tensions remained very much the same, with Niru borrowing money without male-permission (at a time when this was required by law) to pay for the good health and long life of her husband, only to then be caught in the trap of her own deceit which puts her on a fight against time to make sure her lies are not discovered.
For any Ibsen fan, this adaptation of his play would be a delightful review of his work as it not only pleasantly entertains with a superb cast of actors but it also opens up a variety of discussions including colonialized India, societal gender roles, culturally-mixed marriages, and the female identity.
Adapted by Tanika Gupta and Directed by the Lyric Theatres newly appointed Artistic Director, Rachel O’Riordan, ‘A Doll’s House’ is a play that will keep you entertained whilst provoking deeper thought on just how far we have come as a societal-whole.
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