Friday, 1 July 2011

Arcola Theatre: A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

When I did my review of The Seagull at the Arcola Theatre I said I would go back there on my own.  So I did: I got on the London Overground and got off at Dalston Kingsland.  On leaving the station, turn right and you can tap towards a tactile crossing, cross the road, turn right and continue until there is a large construction site.  Turn left here and follow the construction wall (it’s a blue hoarding) and you will arrive at the entrance to the Arcola.  There is a Shiloh Pentecostal church opposite the theatre.   This might be a better known landmark in the area.  After checking in I was given a re-useable plastic ticket and you can ask the staff to reserve a space for you in either of the studios, as there is free seating. 

Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was in Studio 2 and the audience sat on opposite sides of a square forming the scene for the drama.  The play is easy to follow as there are usually only two, sometimes three, actors with speaking roles on the stage at the same time.  I also find Ibsen’s plays easier to follow than Chekhov on a talking book reading of the play. 

In this production of A Doll’s House the audio line is about a 130 degrees and as the back story unfolds, there really isn’t much need for an audio description of the play without some knowledge of the story which concerns betrayal, deception, blackmail and money.  To that extent this production is very accessible in following the play and is a thoroughly enjoyable performance. I remember having to study Hedda Gabbler at school and going to a local performance at the theatre. The Scottish Education Department thought that Ibsen would be edifying.   

In a previous post, I made a rather rash statement in saying that dance was the least accessible of the performing arts to those with sight loss.  I may have been wrong as the actor playing Nora has to do a Tarantella and you can definitely hear the dance steps and even experience the swirl of the dancer since you’re only a few feet away.  In fact, you have to walk through the set to get to your seat.  I was near a couple of props and tried to stay at least a foot away! 

The sound effects are really good and add to the drama.  In one of the early scenes something was dropped and as I had no warning I jumped when I heard it fall to the ground. 

This production had opened the day before and there is a 15 minute break.  The start time is 8 pm and it finishes around 10:30. There is a train from Dalston Kingsland to Richmond about 10:55, though you ought to check out times from Dalston Junction, as it is possible to connect to the underground at Highbury and Islington. 

This performance is well worth a visit and the Arcola Theatre has pay-what-you-can days (Tuesday).  There is a bar and snacks area.  There were quite a crowd of theatre goers using the London Overground and it is encouraging to see this part of London being made more accessible for everyone’s benefit.   

Arcola Theatre:
Box Office Telephone No: 020 7503 1646

Arcola Theatre
24 Ashwin Street
E8 3DL