A Doll’s House

1st October 2019 – Studio Talk – Is marriage a form of colonialism? A pre-show panel discussion inspired by Tanika Gupta’s new adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Host Fiona Mountford will be joined by Tanika Gupta, director of the show Rachel O’Riordan, political journalist and presenter of Radio 4’s Any Answers, Anita Anand and Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies at the University of Sussex, Gurminder K Bhambra.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘Tanika Gupta has transposed Ibsen’s seminal play to 1879 Calcutta and the result is multilayered, massively intelligent and moving.’ The Guardian

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘It’s a smart and often witty adaptation from Tanika Gupta.. O’Riordan and Gupta’s innovative re-working of one of theatre’s most performed plays feels as thrilling as it is politically astute.’ The Evening Standard

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘Rachel O’Riordan’s maiden season at the Lyric opens with a big, bold, post-colonial take on ‘A Doll’s House’ from Tanika Gupta that marks a very clear break with the arch experimentalism of the Sean Holmes era.’ Time Out

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘It’s a supremely smart switch. Setting the play in 1879, the year it was written, Gupta allows its new Kolkata setting to add a layer of racial domination to its examination of patriarchy and its effects. Ibsen was always about society as well as the individual and here the social structures that pinion Niru in her place are graphically and brilliantly realised. Whats On Stage

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘What better place to start than with Ibsen’s once-shocking heroine, her story reimagined by prolific playwright Tanika Gupta?’ The Arts Desk

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘Gupta’s adaptation places Niru in a more complex cage than Nora. Ibsen’s exploration of the patriarchy becomes as much about race and the arrogance of colonialism.’ The Stage

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘As adapted by Tanika Gupta, there are fresh new layers to unpack in her skilful and clever new version that retains the period of the play’s original premiere’ London Theatre.co.uk

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘Gupta’s self-assured reworking brings the classic story of respect, reputation, money, deceit and female rights in a male-dominated world to the fore.’ The Upcoming

‘It’s an ingenious update by Gupta – deepening and complexifying every inch of Ibsen’s original. Sexism is beget by racism is beget by classism is beget by sexism again. Through a postcolonial lens, the play becomes a whirling, inescapable funhouse of micro and macroaggressions.’ Exeaunt magazine


Adapted by Tanika Gupta and directed by Rachel O’Riordan, the play is set in Calcutta, with Niru (Nora in the original) played by Anjana Vasan (Summer and Smoke).

“I have long admired the play A Doll’s House by Ibsen for its powerful portrait of how a young woman – Nora – breaks free from the shackles of a patriarchal marriage. Transposing the setting to Calcutta in 1879 (the year of the play’s first performance), opens the door to exploring additional power dynamics. Two years after Queen Victoria was declared Empress of India and in the midst of massive expansion of the British Empire across the world, I wanted to pose the question – what happened to the women of India who were married to Englishmen? Nora is now a young Bengali woman in a mixed marriage with an English colonial administrator who worships and exoticises her. The wider environment and the central relationship are thus bound up with colonial attitudes to race, sitting alongside and interwoven with patriarchy. This moves it beyond being simply an ‘all Asian’ Doll’s House, enabling an analysis of different forms of subjugation and servitude. Nora breaking free of her shackles is thus all the more poignant at the end of the play.” Tanika Gupta


“Gupta invites us to look at the play’s gender politics through the lens of British colonialism”The Guardian

“Tanika can write about big subjects with complete confidence and bravery… it’s work by a woman of colour, a London playwright with Indian heritage”– The Stage

“It’s not just about looking at subjugation of a woman, but subjugation of a race through colonialism” – London Live – Tanika Gupta re-imagines ‘A Doll’s House


“Sound-wise, it’s not a straight forward period piece.” – ‘Arun Ghosh on ‘A Doll’s House’