After the recent attention received over Theatre Souk, I was eager to make a trip to Theatre Delicatessen to see what all the fuss was about. With an all female version of A Doll’s House on the cards I was sceptical, but also hopeful that I might be pleasantly surprised. While the venue itself came up trumps, the same can’t quite be said for the production.
The staff are welcoming, and there’s a lively atmosphere as the incoming audience members are handed flowers and fake moustaches before winding their way upstairs into this many roomed venue. These props prove to be superfluous to any forthcoming proceedings, but are nonetheless welcome accessories. The only major superfluity is the unnecessary adaptation of Ibsen’s solid, highly nuanced classic play. Sophie Reynolds’ script, although occasionally witty, is just a less good version – rather than a re-thinking – of Ibsen. Taking such a liberty with something so well known is incredibly risky – especially so if there is no discernible agenda or engaging interpretive drive.
A broadly feminist reading of the play, the bar staff try their best to call all the female customers ‘sir’. There’s some nice choreography at the opening, as the cast appear corseted on stage. As Nora proceeds to dress, director Frances Loy’s take on ‘performing’ gender identities is made clear – and it’s neatly done. Unfortunately, this is not suggestive of any further interpretive audacity. Some of the scenes feel tiresomely overwritten, and there are a few awkward corners. Although some of the performances could be stronger, the real weak point of this show is its failure to follow through what it starts.