'A Doll's House' - Press Night Reviews I

Neil KelmanChris Eccleston as Neil Kelman


Daily Express:

A Doll's House ****-
Christopher Eccleston gives what must surely be one of the performances of his life as the villainous, blackmailing Kelman. He has the advantage of a roaring voice and his very height – well over six feet – only adds to the terror he instils in the hapless Nora.
A Doll's House
Chistopher Eccleston's menacing blackmailer Kelman is hugely effective and his scenes with Nora are electric. His taunts are not merely threatening but arise from a bitterness and despair at being trapped in a political scandal he cannot get out of. He is desperate to be re-instated because of his two young sons, therefore making his course of action understandable. He also conveys the loneliness of the widower and his reignited passion for Christine and subsequent restored humanity (another tricky transition) are vividly believable in his hands.
What's On Stage:
A Doll's House ****-
Anderson and Stephens - a devilishly handsome couple they make, too - are bravely complemented by Christopher Eccleston's bitterly vengeful Lancastrian Kelman and Anton Lesser’s vulpine, bespectacled Dr Rank [...]
A Doll's House
As Kelman, Eccleston supplies a measure of menace and an unnerving volatility. Yet, there is also something poignant in his desperation; he is a 'man drowning' as Tara Fitzgerald's Christine puts it.
A Doll's House
The finest performances of the evening are those of Tara Fitzgerald as Nora's confidante and Christopher Eccleston as the villain. Both carry a solid reality with them from the moment they step on stage, making the scenes they are in the most involving and resonant. Eccleston in particular avoids the waiting dangers of moustache-twirling villainy and Uriah Heep crawling to create an ordinarily imperfect man in desperate straits.

The strongest emotional moments in the play are not between Nora and her husband, but the one in which the bad guy threatens Nora and the later reconciliation of the former lovers played by Eccleston and Fitzgerald.
Curtain Up:
A Doll's House
Christopher Eccleston's Kelman, on the other hand, is unexpectedly affecting and sympathetic. His performance as the rogue, disgraced politician, is full of intense desperation and is at once angry and vulnerable.
Here Is The City:
The Donmar's Doll's House
The parallel story of Christine and Neil (Tara Fitzgerald and Christopher Eccleston), again beautifully portrayed in their pain and longing for love, is very poignantly different in that the miracle does happen. A 'bad' man changes through being loved. Are we to think that change is easier when you are not part of the establishment? That you can access your heart and your humanity so much more easily when you have less to lose?
Reviews Gate:
A Doll's House
There is also fine work from Tara Fitzgerald as an uncommonly strong Christine and Christopher Eccleston’s catalystic rough diamond and fallen politician, Neil Kelman.
A Doll's House
Christopher Eccleston gives Kelman an air of desperation as well as menace as someone who seems to have lost all sense of self-worth until offered unexpected redemption by former lost love Christine.
Time Out:
A Doll's House
Eccleston’s politician has a driving force; he looks like he's stormed anachronistically in from the set of 'Spooks'.
The Mail on Sunday (May 24, 2009):
Gillian's the perfect Doll
Christopher Eccleston has terrific edge as the blackmailing oik Neil Kelman who is healed by the love of a good woman (an excellent Tara Fitzgerald). Theirs will be a marriage of equals.
Neil and NoraNeil Kelman and Nora (Gillian Anderson)

The Independent:
First Night: A Doll's House, The Donmar, London ***-- (20/5)
A Doll's House, Donmar Warehouse, London ****- (21/5)
Does that explain why Zinnie Harris has translated her new version from late 19th century Norway to Edwardian London in 1909 and shifted the tale of intrigue, fraud and betrayal from the world of finance to that of politics?

It's only a partially successful transposition, and lines like: "I've got him by his testicles," sound distinctly odd, even when uttered by former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston, full of ire and splutter as Neil Kelman, a Lancastrian politician hastily removed from office after certain "allegations" and a huge falling out with the PM.
It's worth noting the superb playing of Eccleston and Tara Fitzgerald (once a fine Nora herself at the Birmingham Rep) as his true love, Mrs Lyle (Mrs Lynde in Ibsen), and Nora's best friend, in the sub-plot recipe for a slightly more ideal marriage.
BBC News:
Scully meets Doctor in Ibsen play
Eccleston's role is a minor one by comparison, though he convincingly portrays a desperate man fighting for survival in his relatively brief appearances.
Theater News Online:
A Fragrant Happenstance
But the real sexual charge here is not generated between Nora and her husband, but the vengeful and blackmailing disgraced politician Kelman played by a terrificly fevered Christopher Eccleston. The scene during which he threatens Nora with ruin has a torrid edge. And tellingly, theirs is the only relationship without deception.
Financial Times:
A timely take on hypocrisy ****-
The production is beautifully acted. Anton Lesser is a fine, watchful Dr Rank, and there are strong performances from Tara Fitzgerald as Nora's worldly-wise friend and Christopher Eccleston as the dubious creditor.
A Doll's House
Christopher Eccleston has a hard time living up to the current sleaze levels expected of politicians, but rises admirably to the occasion [...]
Sunday Express (May 24, 2009):
Political Masterpiece
Christopher Eccleston is creepily insinuating as the creditor, trying to use the debt to rescue his own career.
Mail Online:
Another house, another scandal *****
Kelman is Thomas's political enemy. He has fallen out with the prime minister. He is fighting for his career. Christopher Eccleston may not have intended this but he plays him just like Alan Milburn, complete with Geordie accent and open-mouthed contempt, tongue flicking against the side of his cheeks as he saunters around the stage with menace.

Television viewers will remember Mr Eccleston as the actor who preceded David Tennant as Doctor Who (jolly good he was, too). Here he creates a rangy, feral chancer who melts at the first sign of affection being shown to him.

Maybe the capitulation is a little sudden, but he is an intriguing intruder who invades the Christmastide domestic bliss of Nora and Thomas's grace-and-favour home, complete with its endearing children.
The Guardian:
A Doll's House ***--
[...] if Kelman is really guilty of fraud, you wonder how on earth he can hope to return to the political arena. And when at one point he cries: "I've screwed the Vaughans," you feel his language is hardly consistent with the period.
And even though I could hardly believe in Kelman as an Edwardian politician, Christopher Eccleston lends him the right anguished aggression.
A Doll's House, at the Donmar Warehouse - review ***--
[...] and there is strong support from Tara Fitzgerald as Nora's tough-minded friend, Christopher Eccleston as the bad egg she finally redeems and Anton Lesser [...]

Part II: ? & Nay
Neil and Christine
Kelman and Christine (Tara Fitzgerald)

1 comment:

Raffaella Arnaldi said...

I really regretted buying a ticket to the show to see Anderson and Eccleston together... Yeah.

I should have booked at least TWO shows instead! ;-D