PREVIEW CLASSIC A DOLL’S HOUSE Dundee Rep, Tue 19 Oct–Sat 6 Nov

In an era where the term ‘banker’ has become disparaging rhyming slang, certain great classics of the theatre can be viewed with a new slant. In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the profession of husband and implacable patriarch Torvald implies the utmost probity and respectability these days we might associate him with sleaze, greed and economic vandalism. It’s a bad start for a character who,

as Jemima Levick, director of this new version of the play by Samuel Adamson points out, already has enough problems. But here, he’s as much a victim of a way of thinking about society as his long suffering, eventually departing, wife Nora. ‘I’m keen that people don’t see it as a feminist play,’ says Levick. ‘What Ibsen was talking about was the equality of humankind. Each of the characters, in short, is a victim in this version.’

Yet the play often feels tragic, in particular, on the subject of Nora, who is made a victim of a system she has no control over. Levick’s production, while no doubt devolving its share of despair to the audience, promises a slightly more upbeat fate for Nora, partially because it has been updated to a 1950s milieu. ‘In the 50s, women, having been running things to a great degree in the war years, were forced to take a step back again. Nora has had a taste of power, only to have it taken away from her. What’s interesting about the difference in eras is that, in the original, Nora had so little to look forward to when she leaves, but here, at least, you can imagine her as a women’s rights campaigner of the future.’ (Steve Cramer)


PREVIEW NEW PLAY SEA AND LAND AND SKY Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Thu 7–Sat 23 Oct

Almost exactly a year ago Abigail Docherty picked up a flyer in the foyer of the Tron Theatre. Already a playwright, with showings of her work at Mayfesto, New Works New Worlds and Imaginate festivals in the pipeline, Docherty was attracted to the flyer’s promotion of a playwriting competition. What appealed was not so much the prospect of an extended run at the Tron for the winning piece, but the promise for the finalists of several months of mentoring and intensive work with the theatre’s creative team.

‘It’s been a dream, for a writer,’ she says, her role in the production of her play, Sea and Land and Sky, now finished as she waits for preview night. ‘It’s been an amazing process having a really good dramaturg [Pamela McQueen] who pushes your plays into places that you didn’t know it might go. You finish one draft and you’re so relieved, and then they go, “What if . . .” and because they’re sort of objective your play just does a somersault and something really interesting happens. So I’m really full of gratitude for that opportunity.’

The fact that Sea and Land and Sky was chosen by

public vote from the three finalists (the other two plays, by Rob Drummond and JC Marshall, can be seen in rehearsed readings in matinee slots during the run) may have as much to do with the promise of the play’s first draft as the fact that it deals with war a topic that Docherty asserts is ‘something we can’t stop thinking about, because it’s always somewhere’. Curious about the story of Edinburgh doctor and

suffragist Elsie Inglis, who set up many field hospitals during World War I, she went to the Central Library, and there found the meticulously kept and illustrated diaries of nurses employed in those hospitals. What touched a nerve was not just the hardship suffered by these young and, in many cases, woefully underprepared women, but the way social hierarchies, petty disputes and the need to maintain a stiff upper lip remained through the horrific and monumental events around them. Catalysed by the need to submit her competition entry on time, she abandoned Inglis and created a play around three fictional characters that was still much inspired by these extraordinary documents. ‘Normal life, in a way, continues in this excessively dangerous situation,’ she says, ‘and I think that’s a really good position to put a piece of drama in.’ (Laura Ennor)


A visit from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater guarantees a number of things. Great dancing, interesting choreography, uplifting music and, of course, Revelations. Choreographed by Ailey in 1960, the piece is a unique calling card performed at the end of every triple-bill the company performs. Set to music that is by turns moving and uplifting, Revelations tells of African-American tenacity and faith, from slavery to freedom. It also offers audiences yet another guarantee that you’ll leave the theatre smiling. But what about the dancers? Does performing the same work night after night

ever get dull? ‘Revelations is like the heartbeat of the company,’ says Linda Sims, a dancer with Ailey since 1995. ‘Every time I approach it, I know there’s something else I want to work on. It has so much meaning behind it that it’s impossible to get tired of.’

On this occasion, the company will also perform Judith Jamison’s homage to Ailey, Hymn and Christopher Huggins emotive Moby-set tribute to both Ailey and Jamison, Anointed. There’s a lot of love in the room, especially when Revelations comes to its joyful close. ‘We’ll perform Revelations in China, Japan, Greece it doesn’t matter where we are, people are standing up at the end,’ says Sims. ‘No matter what religion you are or if you’re an atheist, you just feel it. The moment the music comes on, it takes people to a different level.’ (Kelly Apter)

7–21 Oct 2010 THE LIST 83