You're seated inside a human-sized dollhouse, with see-through walls, in the newest production from Shaking the Tree. And it feels like you shouldn't be there.

From the living room, you witness a domestic scandal unfold in the turn-of-the-century Norway home of an uptight lawyer named Torvald and his little wifey Nora. Unbeknownst to Torvald, Nora borrowed a huge sum of money and is being dogged by a greasy debt collector.

Each room in their house is lit up a pop art color that would never hold up in late Ibsen's Norway: Torvald's study is blue, Nora's room is pink, the dining room is purple and the entryway is red. As you peer around the stove to witness Torvald and Nora's juiciest fight, Samantha Van Der Merwe's genius staging makes you feel like a fly on the wall.

While we're used to seeing personal lives laid out for public consumption on reality TV, Ibsen's feminist play was a scandal at the time of its premiere. It's effective because it's invasive, intimately revealing an unhappy marriage where the woman walks out (gasp).

There's nothing contrived from this cast of Portland veterans, including Jacob Coleman and Matthew Kerrigan. Nikki Weaver perfectly captures the anxiety of a woman hiding her biggest secret, with eye twitches, a forced smile and her constant fiddling with her wedding ring.

This is playing house, grown up and gritty, and all the more fun.

GO: A Doll's House is at Shaking the Tree Theatre, 823 SE Grant St., 503-235-0635. 7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday, April 14-May 7. $25.

Photo by Gary Norman
Photo by Gary Norman