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

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…