Broken Arrow arrived on the Hampshire theatre scene last spring, with their phenomenal production of The Crucible, and followed it up in the autumn with their double-bill of original writing, Still Life. Their third offering, a re-imagining of Henrik Ibsen’s classic A Doll’s House opens this weekend in Eastleigh, and promises to tie together the power and originality their previous productions have showcased.
While Ibsen’s play is originally set in 19th Century Scandinavia, director Alexander Curtis has chosen to transfer his production to the world of 1960s Britain: “a time which remains in cultural memory, if not necessarily living memory of our audience.” A Doll’s House stars some of Broken Arrow’s finest talent, including Curtain Calls nominee James Forster as Nils, alongside two debut performances with the company from Oliver Bray as Torvild and Catherine Tarrant as Mrs Linde.
I got the chance to see a sneak peek of the production at The Courthouse last night, as the cast prepare for opening night this Thursday. The performance, from what I saw, has been crafted with absolute attention to detail – every cast member delivers on a professional level to bring the play to life in the small space. Tarrant gives a measured, contained performance, which works perfectly opposite Forster, who, as expected, shines. Lucy Hughes, as Nora, and Bray as her husband Torvild are perfectly matched; the complex dynamic of their relationship is portrayed with such intensity that despite the unease, it’s impossible to look away. Curtis’ use of space is refreshing and imaginative: having previously been a courtroom, the company are using the large floor space surrounded by odds and ends of audience seating to create an immersive feel for the intense events of the play.
Curtis has said that, following the grand-scale level of The Crucible, as well as the opportunity that Still Life gave the company in creating original pieces from scratch, A Doll’s House is the first time we can expect to see the true creative mission of Broken Arrow shine through – bringing the company’s fresh ideas to classic pieces to create powerful, socially minded theatre. Ibsen’s play is by no means easy to pull off, but it seems Curtis and the cast have done just that.
A Doll’s House is playing 7.30pm at The Courthouse, Eastleigh from Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th January. Tickets cost from £8 and can be reserved here.