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Hearing that the Quotidian Theatre Company had transported Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House from Norway, circa 1879, to Galveston, Texas, in 1918, I was reminded of the old joke about the guy who loses his contact lens in his movie seat; when his friend finds him looking for it in the lobby, he explains, “The light’s better in here.” There would seem to be little reason to adapt Ibsen’s drama except to suit Quotidian, which the program describes as “a group of actors who have spent a great deal of stage time on the Gulf Coast.” But the change works well: The new setting allows audiences to cast off preconceptions and see the plot and characters in a new light. The play is still a period piece about men’s and women’s roles, but now the period is the dawn of women’s suffrage in the American South. Quotidian’s set, a Victorian parlor at Christmastime, all potted palms and candles, is a gilded cage for Nola Marsden (Stephanie Mumford), whose banker husband (John Decker) calls her his “little songbird.” Nola’s gaiety alternately appalls and appeases the old grump, and with her loyal maid (Sharon Dodd) looking after her unseen children, she has little to do but flit and fret—until the arrival of loan shark Nelson Kinkaid (Nick Sampson) threatens her homeland security. Quotidian’s Jack Sbarbori, who also directed, has sliced and diced some of Ibsen’s longer passages from monologue into dialogue, but A Doll’s House, all two hours and 45 minutes of it, is still wordy as hell; with negligible physical business, it might well be a radio drama. In general, the actors hold your attention throughout their lengthy speeches: Steve LaRocque, as the lugubrious Doctor Slade, and Erika Imhoof, as Nora’s widowed working-woman friend Callie (played by Cody Jones at some performances), enliven every scene they enter. But the play hangs on the delicate shoulders of Nola—Ibsen’s Nora—a nearly impossible character to play: She flirts, gossips, and eats pralines for nearly two hours, and not until halfway through Act 3 does she go from victim to victor. Mumford, a charming Nola, aces both magnolia and steel aspects of the role, but playing against the sometimes wooden Decker and Sampson, she’s forced to do more work than she should. By the time she’s finally liberated from her golden shackles, you’re more exhausted than Nola is. —Pamela Murray Winters