Henrik Ibsen goes up to the counter and orders coffee with cream. He looks at the barista. She is so liberated, operating the espresso machine with grace and dignity. He imagines her romantic past. Does she have children? It doesn’t matter. He feels guilty about being a man. He orders another cup of coffee.


Mabou Mines’ production of Ibsen’s A Doll House creates a grotesque, eerie feeling. The director Lee Breuer chooses to deconstruct the realism through the stage design, the farcical elements and the Brechtian acting style. The audience in the theater are puppets, while the male characters in the production are all little people, which according to the director serve as a farcical twist to the presentation of patriarchy. The climactic ending is turned into an operatic number, when the audience/puppets in the boxes rise up to the gender debate. Finally, it ends with Nora taking off all her clothes and her wig, running nakedly away from this dollhouse. 

This experimental adaptation on Ibsen is very bold and radical. I often thought that  any deconstruction has to be followed by some new construction. And I think this production did succeed in building something solid and touching. But on the other hand, it was such an exhausting two-hour watching it, because of the crazy actions and extremely intense emotion in it. Ibsen’s works all offer so many dialogues for the audience/reader to digest, and therefore are very thought-provoking and energy-consuming.