DO HENRIK Ibsen's ''A Doll House'' the wrong way and Nora becomes a rather unsympathetic character. Do it the right way, and your sympathy is with her when she walks out that door.
She may be walking out on her three children and her husband, but if the drama is done with care, she is almost justified in doing so.
The Center Stage production that opened last evening is being done quite carefully. The script, an adaptation of the original, written in 1879, is still funny at times. There is no real way of doing this play without getting some laughs, but all things considered, the Center Stage company is doing quite well with it.
Jackson Phippin is responsible for the interesting direction. He doesn't waste time with scene changing, and it is good he does not, or we'd still be sitting there.
The show is long, much too long. Certain scenes which are omitted from most productions of the play could be eliminated with no loss, but this is the way Phippin has chosen to do it, and his direction almost compensates for the length.
Feminists like to claim ''A Doll House'' as the grandmother to all feminist dramas. It may be, but as translated by Rick Davis and Brian Johnson, this particular ''Doll House'' is less a feminist drama than it is a play in which a young woman, married to a buffoon, finds herself caught in a situation of her own making.
Her husband, who should be sympathetic, reacts rather badly, prompting his wife to open that door and leave.
Caitlin O'Connell is Nora, Richard Bekins is Tovald, her husband, Cara Duff-MacCormick is Mrs. Linde, friend to Nora, Stephen Markle is Nils, the widower who contributes to the estrangement between Nora and her husband, and Keith Langsdale is Dr. Rank, the family friend who loves Nora.
All do extremely well, particularly O'Connell, who is in no small way responsible for the fact that Nora, in this case, may be doing the right thing.
Phippin has his stage hands change scenery as the actors continue about the stage. At times, some of the players simply sit to the side, out of the scene, waiting for the moment when they will be required to participate.
At other times, Phippin has some of his players freeze as others carry the drama along. Again, style makes the material seem better than it is.
''A Doll House'' will remain at Center Stage through Feb. 2. It isn't easy to do this particular classic and not get some laughs, but in this instance, they are kept to a minimum. If only the play didn't run so long.
''A Doll House''
*** Henrik Ibsen's drama about the housewife who finally walks out on her family.
CAST: Caitlin O'Connell, Richard Bekins, Cara Duff-MacCormick, Stephen Markle, Keith Langsdale, Sanford C. Keith, Trinity Thompson, Holly F. Cate
DIRECTOR: Jackson Phippin
RUNNING TIME: Two hours and 55 minutes
TICKETS: 332 0033