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A Doll’s House

Between Heaven and Hell

By Nick White

Directed by Kurt Lancaster

Starring Anand Sarwate ’01, Sarah McDougal ’00, Nathan Hafford, Fernando Padilla G, Rachel Kline ’01, Abby Spinak ’01, Aaron Santos ’01, Brian Keller, Kortney Adams G, Rachel Werkman, Kurt Lancaster, and Laura Lapointe

On Sunday, I saw the last performance of A Doll’s House: Between Heaven and Hell, a play conceived and directed by Kurt Lancaster, who teaches Shakespeare at MIT and will direct the Shakespeare Ensemble this fall. While A Doll’s House is in the title, Ibsen’s work is only a small part of the experience of this play. The play is a collection of scenes from other plays. It centers around Dante and his journey through hell, with the lost souls of hell represented in scenes from a spectrum of plays, all dealing with love, both triumphant and flawed.

It was dark. It was powerful. I felt the pain and the joy, the love and the anger of each character. The mood was conveyed to the audience through Dante (Anand Sarwate ’01), who interpreted what we saw in hell and shared with us the feelings of love and despair experienced through this journey. The lighting and the music provided a dark, surreal atmosphere. The set was simple, containing two small, black cubes. The characters wore mostly black, except for Dante’s dead love, who wore the pure color of white.

The play begins with Dante mourning the death of his love, Beatrice (Laura Lapointe). He is then guided into hell itself, with Virgil (Sarah McDougal ’00) as his guide. The middle of the play, its bulk, is divided into three sections.

In the first section, we see the romance and love from each of the plays. Even at this early stage, some of the plays-within-the-play start to show the underlying tension. In the second section, conflicts begin to arise between each of the couples. The excitement and love is gone. Now there is tension.

In the third and final segment of these stories -- and in the third circle of hell -- death and misery fill the air. We witness the death of Romeo and Juliet, the relationship falling apart in A Doll’s House, and other consequences of failed romance.

Dante, horrified by what he has seen, now must face his dead love Beatrice.

The play showed theatrical skill rarely seen in a college play. Dark, seductive, depressing, and moving, the play helped the audience understand the intricacies of love. It was an experience that I hope you did not miss.