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On Pitch Performing Arts Brings a Classic Play—A Doll’s House—to Layton

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

By Breanne Sanders       

I didn’t know much about A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen before arriving at On Pitch Performing Arts, but as soon as I walked into the theatre I was intrigued. A Doll’s House tells the story of Nora, a woman in the 1870s—not a time for much to do if you’re an unhappy woman with nowhere to go.

Nora’s character is quite capricious at first, changing from adorably charming to innocently vain and back in a flash. As the show progresses, she deals with more mature and serious emotions, and Katie Plott (Wendy Oltmann Thursday/Saturday cast) is able to make those switches seamlessly. Her husband Torvald (Garret Rushforth) treats her as his “little songbird.” At first, Nora is endeared by his pet names, until she realizes that’s all she is to him – a pet, not a human being. Rushforth plays Torvald as being unaware of this fact, however, until Nora explains it, which gave me a much-needed ounce of pity for his awful character. One of my favorite things was to watch other audience member’s shocked expressions whenever Torvald said anything particularly controlling. Rushforth’s calm and amiable mood through much of the show makes the lines all the more jarring.

The staff of the Helmer house includes Anne-Marie the nanny (Sarah Robinson), Helene the maid (Andrea Del Mar Bench), and the porter (Nathan Teasdale). They help show the cracks in the Helmer’s seemingly perfect life. Krogstad (David Barrett) is another villainous character in the show who tries to blackmail Nora. Barrett as Krogstad deftly walks the line between a desperate, terrified man, and a bold and vicious blackmailer, which helps us understand his character’s choices throughout the show. Luckily, Nora’s friend Kristine (Becky Bratt) offers to try to help Nora out of the situation, and Bratt’s level-headedness helps balance the high emotions of the other characters.

The Helmer’s neighbor, Dr. Rank (Tim Behunin) is a heartwarming piece of the story. Behunin is able to add a bit of comedy to the serious matters while remaining a rather somber character himself. One of my favorite scenes was when Dr. Rank and Nora use veiled words to wish each other well. “Thanks for the light,” Dr. Rank says, and while Torvald thinks he means lighting the cigar, Nora can sense he really means the friendship they have shared over the years.

The stage is set to the Helmer living room, and the set design by Heather Poulsen is masterful. Most of the furniture is acrylic with painted details, which gives the space an air of opulence but with an underlying fragility. There is also a frame between the stage and the audience, which at first seems like simply the walls of the home, but later emphasizes the metaphor that the main character, Nora lives like a caged songbird. Props by Laura Crossett have a similar effect. Costumes by Niamh Helwig help transport me to the late 1800s, and the colors fit the characters well – for example, purple for Torvald, who values riches, sky blue for childlike Nora. 

Directed by Rachel Helwig, this production of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsenis a new adaptation by Kirsten Brandt and Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey. While I learned many lessons and insights from this beautiful play, the biggest takeaway I got was that we should treat each other first and foremost as human beings. At its core, that’s what the play is about, and that’s why it is still such a relevant work today. I hope you get the chance to see the show.

On Pitch Performing Arts presents A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.
On Pitch Performing Arts Main Stage,  587 North Main Street, Layton UT, 84041
September 15-30, 2023 7:30 PM
Tickets: $17.50
Contact: 385-209-1557
On Pitch Performing Arts Facebook Page

Front Row Reviewers

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