In 1879, when Ibsen's A Doll's House was first performed, audiences were appalled by Nora's decision to leave home and hearth. Never mind that her husband, Torvald, was domineering and ungrateful, or that her supposed transgression was committed out of love for him. It was Nora's then-unthinkable act--the definitive slam of the front door--that set off a maelstrom of controversy across Europe.
Fast-forward to 2004. As boldly reconceived by Thomas Ostermeier, one of the four vanguard artistic directors leading Berlin's esteemed Schaubühne theater, Nora and Torvald inhabit a luxe apartment outfitted with high-toned modern art and up-to-the-minute technology--an essential and cleverly integrated component of their complicated lives. While Ostermeier--who makes his American directorial debut with Nora--has left a good portion of the original text intact, he has played daringly fast and loose with the play's climax, a resolutely modern solution that rivals Ibsen's in its capacity to shock.