published Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Review: 'A Doll's House' another Chattanooga Theatre Centre triumph

By Debbie Hale

The Chattanooga Theatre Centre and Director Scott Dunlap score again with Dunlap's own adaptation of Norwegian playwright Henrik Johan Ibsen's "A Doll's House."

Often referred to as the "father of modern drama," Ibsen is largely responsible for the rise of modern realistic drama as we know it. Dunlap takes this classic story of a young woman's desire to find herself within the confines of her marriage and sets the play in the pre-Civil War South, specifically Charleston, S.C., the "Romantic Capital" of Dixie.

This three-act play hosts a cast of 11 versatile thespians. Playing the complex heroine Nora, energetic Joanna Keeling seizes the childlike innocence imposed upon her. As Keeling's characterization goes from submissive baby doll to mature, liberated woman, a transformation of self-searching discovery unfolds as the complexity of her character is developed. This extremely demanding role is superbly woven together by the talented Keeling.

James M. Lawson is making his CTC debut in the role of Torvald, the dominating husband, and is the perfect contrast to his "little songbird," Nora. With perfect gruffness, Lawson dictates the sexist attitude of his character with natural flair. Lawson's portrayal of this stereotyped male reminds us that revelation and desolation sometimes go hand-in-hand.

Teralyn Wade and Jim Eernisse lend themselves to excellent interpretations in the supporting roles of Mrs. Linde, friend of Nora, and Krogstad, the manipulative bank employee.

Stacy Helton's doomed Dr. Rank imposes the tragedy of his character with stark reality.

Other cast members include Fallon S. Clark as Ella, Nathaniel Garth as Samuel and Anna-Eva Jones as Anna as the servants. Playing the children are Cannon Hunt as Ivan, Cameron Legge as Bob and Annabelle Major as Emmy.

"A Doll's House" focuses on enlightenment. It is a discovery of the human condition, but specifically, that which is unique and personal to one's inner soul. Adult audiences will understand and appreciate the performance.

Contact Debbie Hale at delhale@epbfi.com.

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