Skip to main content

Mabou Mines DollHouse

Kings Theatre
4 stars
When Henrik Ibsen wrote his proto feminist dissection of the sex wars in 1879, the scandal it caused can’t have been a patch on Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell’s post-modernist dissection of it. Using what Breuer calls ‘the Politics Of Scale’ as its starting point, the result is a dazzlingly audacious deconstruction, which takes its central premise of patriarchal infantilism to its logical limit. All male characters are played by actors of restricted growth, while the women are all nearly six foot tall. Breuer even makes Ibsen laugh out loud funny via a series of routines derived from American music hall, silent movie slapstick and a knowing faux melodrama which acknowledges its own artifice at every turn. Having the cast talk in the sort of sing-song Scandinavian accent not heard since the Swedish chef baked his last cake on The Muppet Show helps too.

Opening on a bare stage, pianist Eve Beglarian takes a bow before seating at her keyboard to usher in what looks like a parlour entertainment. Scarlet drapes slowly engulf the stage, and a pop-up book doll’s house walls are raised. This is the universe Nora has made her own. Like a little girl playing happy families in a Baby Jane wig, there’s something grotesque at play, even though, more like a Tennessee Williams matriarch, she’s instinctively in touch with her hyper-active sexual allure. Dream sequences border on the Felliniesque, while an even more manic second half is peppered with one-line in-jokes and prat-falls, until a quite stunning stylistic lurch rollercoasts its way towards the play’s denouement.

In Maude Mitchell’s literarily towering performance as Nora, there’s something of Anna Nicole-Smith, that all too 21st century all-American gold-digger and pneumatic Amazonian Barbie doll. But where Smith crashed and burned into tragedy, Nora’s rites of passage and slow-burning self-knowledge helps her strip bare her little wifelet layers enough to understand the value of defiance.

The Herald, August 25th 2007

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…