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Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 11:52 UK
Bringing A Doll's House to life
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Rebecca Manson-Jones
Rebecca Manson-Jones joined the theatre in February 2009

Rebecca Manson Jones had many things to consider when deciding which show to direct first at Exeter's Northcott.

The theatre's newly-installed creative director said she considered "stacks of plays" before settling on Ibsen's masterpiece A Doll's House.

"There were many reasons for choosing it," said Rebecca, who has been at Exeter Northcott since February 2009.

"We wanted to do a play which is extremely exciting and challenging for theatremakers to produce.

"And this play marked a real watershed in theatre history."

And it was the play's themes of debt and deceit which Rebecca felt would have a real resonance for today's audiences.

A Doll's House Exeter Northcott
A Doll's House was written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879

"The situation is something that could be happening in any sitting room at any Christmas even though it was written 130 years ago.

"It comes down to what do you do when the person you choose to spend your life with turns out to be a complete stranger."

The cast is led by Clare Calbraith as Nora and Pieter Lawman, most recently seen performing for Exeter Northcott as Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet, as Torvald.

One of the first things she did on arriving in Exeter was to initiate the Big Read; staging work by nine South West-based writers and involving 75 writers in all.

"The Big Read was a toe in the water to see who is here, what they are doing and we were very pleased with the response to that from right across the region.

"Two-thirds of those who responded had no previous relationship with Exeter Northcott so that was exciting in itself.

"A number of them are now working on a project related to A Doll's House."

And in tandem with preparing for the opening of A Doll's House, Rebecca is also looking ahead to a show with a more cheery view of Christmas - this year's pantomime; Mother Goose.

Exeter Northcott
Exeter Northcott underwent a 2.1m refurbishment in 2007

"It will be what people know the Northcott for, a good quality traditional family pantomime.

"Something we all know and love - with a little bit more."

'Smashing night'

So what does Rebecca hope the audience will get from coming to see Ibsen at Exeter Northcott?

"Because the area is more sparsely populated than London for instance it's more of a risk, more of an investment to come out and watch a play," she said.

"So we won't take our audiences for granted and we need to be sure what we're putting on is the best or the right thing and with A Doll's House I think they'll have a smashing night out.

"It's a firecracker of a play and I hope they will find it both thrilling and funny and will find themselves talking about it in the car on the way home."

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
Exeter Northcott
Wednesday 9 to Saturday 26 September 2009
Box Office: 01392 493493




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