Monday, July 21, 2014


The old saying goes that two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.  Nora Helmer has a secret of such proportions that it is capable of destroying her marriage and thrusting her into society's disapproving eye.  To meet Nora and discover her criminal indiscretion, avail yourself of Westport Country Playhouse's "Nora," adapted by Ingmar Bergman from Henrik Ibsen's classic drama "A Doll's House."  The original was first performed in Copenhagen, Sweden in 1879 and centers on a woman who appears on the surface finally to possess  everything she has ever desired.

Until Saturday, August 2, you are invited into Nora's doll house life in 19th century Sweden, a life where she and her husband Torvald appear to be the happiest of couples.  It is Christmas and by New Year's Day, he will occupy the post as manager of the Cooperative Bank, a position of prestige and prosperity. No longer will they have to scrimp.  Nora can now indulge her fancies for all the pretty possessions of life.  Liv Rooth embraces the role of Nora with both arms open wide.

The moment is one of ecstasy, but it soon turns an ugly face.  Nora, with the best of intentions, to restore Torvald to good health, entered into a compromising relationship with a shady lawyer Krogstad (Shawn Fagan) who now appears on her doorstep hinting of blackmail.  He is about to be dismissed at the bank by Nora's husband for his own less than honest dealings and he pleads with Nora to intervene on his behalf with the morally upright Torvald, an uncompromising Lucas Hall.

Illusions of a perfect life are shattered as Nora's old friend Christine (Stephanie Janssen) appears and implores Nora to help her for old time's sake.  When Christine is given Krogstad's bank position, it seems Nora is doomed to be exposed for her illegal actions, forging her father's name on legal documents.  The only one clearly on her side, with great admiration for her, is Dr. Rank (LeRoy McClain), who, although quite ill, is staunch in her defense.

This melodrama spins like a child's toy top in a dozen directions as Nora's life fast forwards out of control.  As a possession of her husband and not a wife and equal, she wakes up to her unhappy fate and does the only thing she can.  David Kennedy keeps the suspense building as Nora frantically tries to save her fragile life of contentment.  The walls of her doll house eventually disintegrate around her, a design conceit created by Kristen Robinson.

For tickets ($30 and up), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Let Henrik Ibsen and Ingmar Bergman and David Kennedy unite to tell a tale of a woman who, in losing everything, discovers herself.

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