This show finished on Saturday 12 November 2022, and this page is being kept for archival purposes only.

A Doll's House


Wednesday 09 November - Saturday 12 November 2022


Bedlam Theatre




Henrik Ibsen


There is a marriage of theatrics in the Helmer’s household, and Nora plays her role well. A spendthrift and a singing bird, she delights in her husband’s new powerful position in a bank, twittering away to her old friend Kristine with notes of money, money, money. But her song is soon cut short by the arrival of a familiar lawyer, Mr Krogstad, who reveals a salient detail in their previous acquaintance that she appears to have forgotten.

Infused with a modern context, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House transforms the theatre floor, inviting immersed audiences to examine the Helmer’s personal relationship, closed behind their very own doors. Bubbling with secrecy and guilt, Nora for the first time faces a battle alone. Fighting for breath in her final Tarantella, she hopes for something wonderful, but discovers instead the most wonderful thing of all.

Cast and Crew


Actor (Anne-Marie) Lauren Green

Actor (Dr. Rank) Otis Kelly

Actor (Nils Krogstad) Benny Harrison

Actor (Nora Helmer) Lucy Melrose

Actor (Torvald Helmer) Gabriel Rogers

Assistant Stage Manager Scarlett McRoberts

Co-Set Manager Luca Stier

Costume Designer Evie Parnham

Costume Designer Rose Curnyn

Director Josie Embleton

Lighting Assistant Freya White

Producer Hannah Lacaille

Set Assistant Nat Lamont

Set Manager Lois Zonnenberg

Sound Assistant Leon Lee

Sound Designer Naqib Fakhrul

Stage Manager Julia Rahn

Tech Manager / Lighting Designer Mallory Smith

Review for A Doll's House -

Saturday 12 November - By Dominic Corr for Corr Blimey

Christmas. And things surely couldn’t be any better in the Helmer household.

The luxuries of life at the fingertips of a mother, and a wife; whether it’s macarons or champagne suppers, if Nora Helmer desires the whims of fancy – they are hers. Bliss without a care to be found – everything in this tidy house is picturesque, posed to perfection, artificial, false. All this little songbird must do is toe the line, raise her children, and leave financial decisions and activities to the men in her life.

And for a significant portion of contemporary history – this was the line fed to many women; to reject this was an outrageous stir of the dynamics of the ‘civilised’ world. To forge a life of autonomy and seek a self-responsive and fulfilling life within, but not with, a male-dominated world was outside of the everyday means of possibility.

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House resonates beyond the theatrical world – as a small piece in the grand movement which would pry the door open for identifying greater freedoms, acknowledgements, and levelling of the status quo. It is unquestionably a hegemonic text – one driven into the minds of dramatic and literature students from a young age, but one which never blossoms in understanding until a little later. There’s a reason this is one of the world’s most performed texts. And it’s one which many a production has taken upon, only to find themselves in over their heads.

Bedlam Theatre’s latest fully-fledged production is not one of these companies.

The degree of understanding director Josie Rose Embleton imbues within their production is of a significant quality – not only through performance and interpretation of Ibsen’s work but in the craft and staging. The story of a woman coming to the realisation of how limited her life has been, and her autonomy has been passed from father to husband is told tremendously well through this production’s lead cast.  

Lucy Melrose, previously seen taking on the American classic All My Sons in a thunderously complex role as matriarch Kate, returns to Bedlam providing the lead role as Nora. But there’s a rich nuance for Melrose to work with, and a much tighter sense of characterisation and a significant dimension of evolution – rather than gradual descent. Where Kate’s world crashed around her despite her desperation, for Nora, the slamming of this door is the opening of a new chapter. Melrose, paradoxically in a text concerning a woman’s lacking autonomy, has complete control of the stage – and manages to portray the drip of realisation, without stripping away Nora’s relatability and character appeal.

Vast levels of realisation and the agony of acceptance come over within Melrose’s gaze, grasping Embleton’s direction and understanding the importance of immersing the audience. Equally, Benny Harrison works within a 360-degree scope, ensuring to move around the stage and project throughout – but without coming over as intrusive. The back and forth he shares with Melrose are uncomfortable, fitting for the script, working to pinpoint faults in the system, and her husband Torvald, played by Gabriel Rogers with a stern, reserved authority. 

With a staging concept that pushes the audience as far into the Doll’s House motif as they can be, it’s a vastly gutsy gamble which pays off terrifically. It enables cast members the luxury of a whisper, or stolen glance and touch; close enough to the audience to ensure its visibility. It’s put to great use by Phee Simpson’s Kristine, Nora’s school-age friend returning after the death of her husband, left without children or money, Simpson doesn’t allow Kristine to slot too neatly into an archetype of the period but still conveys the graveness of the situation, and works as both a fear for Nora of what life could become and a reinforcement of her inevitable decision.

Not entirely the fault of direction, the third Act of Iben’s play has always felt the more sluggish in momentum – siphoning off the energy which has been building throughout, paying off with a soupcon of dramatic pathos, but let down by the exposition. What aids here is the inclusion of both video projection and Saskia Rista-Brettler’s choreography leading into the finale as Nora’s final Tarantella spirals in and out of control, a metaphorical cleansing of sorts leaves her mind ready for the journey ahead, for the most wonderful thing of all; something her current husband cannot give her. 

A Doll’s House, despite its prestige, is not an easy show to stage. Too simplistic, and the gravitas is undervalued; too grandeur and narrative merits weaken. This Bedlam production possesses lashings of innate performances that grasp not only the aged text but also the contemporary nature of elements – drawing them to the forefront with creative lighting, projection, and immersive staging. Where the limitations of Ibsen’s script arise, the cast and crew largely fend-off issues with pacing, keeping the production to a tight schedule. It understands that despite the male-heavy cast and powerful elements, this is Nora’s story. This is Kristine’s story. This was a new chapter for representation – and they’ve successfully captured a continuation of that. 

Review for A Doll's House -

Wednesday 09 November - By Thom Dibdin for All Edinburgh Theatre

The EUTC have taken Ibsen’s great classic, A Dolls House, and given it an immersive telling at the Bedlam all week, in a production which updates the setting to contemporary times.

It’s a fast and compelling production too, one which gets under the skin of the central character of Nora Helmer, the dutiful wife who has married for status not love, but whose indiscretion – in the form a loan taken out on a forged signature – comes from somewhere beyond duty.

The setting, with the audience in and around three sides of the playing area, throws the limelight more than ever on that central role. It’s a clever design, making the front rows of the audience the walls of the Helmer’s home, interrogating their lives and actions.

The play takes place just before Christmas, in the home of the Torvald and Nora Helmer who are celebrating his promotion to manager of the bank where he works. It will be the solution not just to the household’s financial problems – but will also allow Nora to pay back the loan.

Lucy Melrose as Nora carries the whole production with a lightness and sparkle. Compelling to watch, her excitement and angst shine through at every turn, genuinely disappointed when Torvald berates her extravagances and delighted when he takes pleasure in her dancing.
righteous anger

Gabriel Rogers’ Torvald is maybe a bit too stolid, lacking any real nuance. He is either cooing and billing over his beloved wife, or he is beside himself in righteous anger – but that anger is certainly palpable, particularly when he discovers Nora’s indiscretion.

There is little to fault in the supporting cast, who ensure that Nora remains the focus. Phee Simpson as her childhood friend Kristine Linde, is suitably affronted at Nora’s brazen lack of empathy (a moment in which Melrose gives Nora a breathtaking lack of self-awareness), calling her out and provoking the revelation about the loan.

There is a nicely shifty and uncertain air to Benny Harrison’s Krogstad – who loaned the money to Nora, knowing that she had forged her father’s signature to gain it and is now determined to use that information to blackmail her into arguing his own cause with Torvald. Lauren Green is quite the invisible servant as the maid, Anne-Marie.

Finessing the Dolls House’s variety of ages in a student production is not easy. Director Josie Rose Embleton steps nimbly over the issue of the children by having Nora speak with them on the phone. Less easy is Nora’s elderly admirer, Dr. Rank. Otis Kelly’s understated physical study of the character is nicely done and there is a poignancy to the key scene between Rank and Nora.

Embleton’s precise and sensible direction ensures that the production drives easily along, drawing an inescapable feminist message in Nora’s ultimate rejection of family life, but also throwing up interesting ideas about class in both the Helmers attitudes towards Kristine and Krogstad.

However, not all the productions meta conceits work as well as its basic thrust.

In practical terms, as an audience member it is fine being another doll on the shelf, looking into the dolls house; but if you happen to be sitting next to the record player in Torveld’s study when he leaves off reading the Guardian Online and puts on an Ella Fitzgerald record, the rest of the scene will be inaudible to you.

More problematic is the whole contemporary update. The play relies on a morality and social mores that went out in the 1960s. Beyond that, the device of Krogstad’s letter, sitting waiting to be read in the locked letter box, is most disquieting when he has already shown the fateful document to Nora on his laptop.

Still, these concerns are worth overlooking. For the most part Lois Zon and Luca Stier’s management of the set is excellent. Evie Parnham and Rose Curnyn’s costumes are quite the thing and Mallory Smith’s lighting works well to help delineate the different areas of the set.

More to the point, what ever the quibbles, Embleton’s certainty in her direction ensures a fresh and a thought-provoking take on a play that is much revived.


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