A Doll’s House
Central Florida Community Arts
By Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Robin Olson
Starring Ashleigh Ann Gardner and Micheal Geniac
It’s seems a fairy tale marriage – Torvald (Geniac) just got a big promotion and a chance for some real money. Nora raises two darling children and runs this fussy Danish household under the piercing glare of the neighbors. But like all marriages, there’s a dark secret. Nora spends foolishly, and she took an illegal loan to cover her debts. Only a man or a single woman could borrow money in that society, and while her father MAY have cosigned, he was busy with his own death and it took him three days after his burial to sign the paperwork. Now the evil lender Krogstad (Scott Browning) comes knocking, and he’s desperate to get his job back. He’s not so concerned about the cash, he wasn’t his job and respectability back, and that takes Torvalds’s cooperation. And why shouldn’t he be rehired? It’s been two whole years since he did anything wrong. Nora is his only hope, and he blackmails her. It’s either suicide or separation for Nora, and neither was a pleasant alternative then or now. We are left with a shattered morality: Nora out on her own. Torvald disgraced, and Krogstad left with a woman who rejected him years before, but now as desperate herself.
It’s a long, dark journey complete with two intermissions. The story unfolds slowly, and Gardeners’ Nora comes across as a silly and uninformed but with a great sense of style and she loves the kids. Geniac’ s Torvald had a busy work life and devotes his energy to that rather than keeping up with Nora’s householding. Its a common enough challenge but we see its effects. My favorite up on stage was Mr. Browning’s Krogstad: a bit loud, a bit dangerous, and completely lost. John E. Palmer appears as family friend Dr. Jens Rank and Nora’s secret admirer. He’s dying; and you can feel the congestive heart failure rages he comes closer to marking his own demise. All this action fits into one expansive unit set with the sort of fussy ceramics I inherited from my ancestor. It’s a foundation of the Woman’s Rights movement. This is the dark version of Nora’s awakening that blossom in the companion production across the lake at Orlando Shakes. It’s a dark, cold story; and a good tale for these dark cold times.