'Doll's House' Falls Flat at Noise Within

You feel mixed emotions after viewing "A Doll's House," the revival of Ibsen's classic at A Noise Within in Glendale.

First you're grateful that a competent classical theater has tackled this exceptionally difficult text, which still speaks powerfully on marriage and gender roles over a century later. But you're also disappointed that Ibsen's provocative ideas fall a bit flat in director Mark Rucker's muted staging.

Flittery and wavering, Jill Hill never quite finds the right focus as Nora, the archetypal bourgeois housewife suffocating in a bad marriage. As her shallow bank-manager husband Torvald, Robert Pescovitz shows early promise but soon succumbs to a one-note portrayal of misplaced rectitude. By the time Nora makes her climactic bid for independence--one of the most famous scenes in modern drama--the move seems more inevitable than unforgettable.

Some fine support comes from Mark Bramhall as the dying Dr. Rank and Anna C. Miller as Nora's old friend Kristine. The raked set by Angela Balogh Calin, meanwhile, is an impressive model of middle-class Scandinavian sterility.

* "A Doll's House," A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Tonight, Saturday, Wednesday, Thursday, Nov. 10, 18, 24, 30, Dec. 1, 7, 13, 16, 8 p.m.; Oct. 29, 7 p.m.; Nov. 11, 19, 25, Dec. 17, 2 p.m. Ends Dec. 17. $10-$28. (818) 546-1924. Running time: 3 hours, 5 minutes.

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