Culture & Events

Contemporary kiwi take on a tension-filled classic

Touring around Aotearoa for the first time, the award-winning and critically acclaimed A Doll’s House is set to make waves at Hamilton’s Clarence Street Theatre this September.

Originally commissioned for Auckland Theatre Company’s 2015 season and last performed in Wellington’s Circa Theatre in 2017, A Doll’s House is a provocative, visceral and skilful adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen classic.

Lead character Nora Helmer has it all: a successful and attractive husband, a big house and two charming children. But as Christmas festivities get underway, events from the past return to wreak havoc in paradise. Nora’s life begins to fracture, leaving her trapped inside a web of secrets and lies… Will the truth set her free or is she in too deep?

Cleverly exposing the power and gender dynamics within a marriage, this version of the explosive story has been re-contextualised in a modern Aotearoa complete with a sugar-free, eco-conscious lifestyle. Celebrated New Zealand writer Emily Perkins has created a masterpiece in her first work for the stage, exploring the social straitjackets we find ourselves in and revealing how much – or how little – has changed since the Ibsen original, framed by questions of societal expectations and identity.

Returning to the role of Nora is the outstanding Sophie Hambleton (TV’s Westside), whose searing performance in the Wellington premiere at Circa Theatre was critically acclaimed. Opposite her, Simon Leary (Filthy Business, Hudson and Halls) joins the cast for the first time as Nora’s husband Theo. Kali Kopae, Francis Biggs and veteran actor Peter McCauley form the supporting cast from the Wellington production.

They will be joined on tour by 10-year-old Sophie Fulton as Bee, Nora and Theo’s daughter. Sophie Fulton had a feature role in Universal Studios’ film Mortal Engines, released last year and also has a wealth of stage experience. The role of her twin brother Billy will be filled by a young local actor in each of the three centres where the show is touring to. In Nelson, Billy will be played by nine-year-old Ryder McMeeken, and auditions for the role in Dunedin and Hamilton are taking place in the next month.

Director Katherine McRae (Burn Her, The Enemy of the People) says: “I feel lucky to work with talented young actors. It’s fascinating to see that some children know how to act – they just get it. They understand make-believe and have a lot of empathy and they bring that to their work. Luckily, they also have very supportive parents who are happy for them to go on this journey.”

Nominated for six Wellington Theatre Awards for the 2017 season, including Best New Playwright and Best New NZ Play for Emily Perkins, Outstanding Performance for Sophie Hambleton, and Best Actress for Kali Kopae and taking home the prizes for Marcus McShane, Best Lighting Designer and Ian Harman, Best Set Designer, this commanding production will shock and move you.

A Doll’s House is on at Clarence Street Theatre on September 14. Book at Ticketek For more info visit www.tourmakers.co.nz

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