A Doll's House, Part 2

‘A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2’: Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper & Jane Houdyshell. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

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Written by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Sam Gold
Through July 23, 2017
John Golden Theatre
252 West 45th Street
(212-239-6200), www.DollsHousePart2.com


By David NouNou

In 1879, Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House where in the end, Nora Helmer slams the door of her house, leaves her husband and her children and walks away from a marriage that she felt was her prison. Quite remarkable for its day for a woman with no means of support to take such action. In 2017, Lucas Hnath has written A Doll’s House, Part 2 in which Nora comes back knocking on the door of the house she walked out of 15 years ago.

Nora (Laurie Metcalf) has come back and is greeted by Anne Marie (Jayne Houdyshell), the family nanny and housemaid. It’s an awkward moment but soon turns into hilarity at every turn, thanks to Mr. Hnath’s brilliant writing. Nora has not come to apologize or be forgiven for walking out on everyone but has come back to get something she wasn’t given 15 years earlier.

Nora has done very well for herself. She has become a successful female writer with plenty of money and lovers along the way. Nora has written many books under a pseudonym advocating freedom for women who feel shackled by the restraints and chains of their marriage by divorcing their husbands and starting a new life. In the process, she has provoked a judge who has found her real identity and is going to expose her for the sham that she is.

Thus her reason for her appearance at her husband’s doorstep. Torvald Helmer (Chris Cooper) never filed the divorce papers as he promised Nora he would. People assumed when she left that she was sick, went to a sanitarium and died. People felt sorry for Thorvald, his reputation at the bank strengthened and he never bothered to correct anyone.

The wheels are set in motion for what is to be the thrill ride of the theatrical season. Nora not only left Torvald and Anne Marie, but she also left behind a young daughter, Emmy (Condola Rashad), who has grown up into a young lovely woman. Like her mother, she is strong-willed; unlike her mother, she wants to get married to the man she is engaged to and wants to be enslaved by the man she loves. In this case, Nora cannot see Emmy as an ally to get her divorce.

What is absolutely astounding is how Mr. Hnath has taken Ibsen’s characters and given them new and far more complicated lives than Ibsen would have ever imagined. There are so many sides to align with, but the allegiance keeps shifting. Nora, Thorvald, Emmy and Anne Marie are all embroiled in these dilemmas and the audience is marveling at the expertise of the writing and the humor that is peppered throughout the play.

The performances at the John Golden Theatre are among the best you will see this season. The play has garnered eight Tony nominations and is sure to win a few: Laurie Metcalf, as Nora, is a sure shot. She is monumental and a force to be reckoned with. Jayne Houdyshell. who won Best Featured Actress in a Play Tony last year for The Humans, is up again this year in the same category, as is Condola Rashad. They are the embodiment of featured actresses and great in their parts and what a thrill it would be to see a tie where both of them could win.

There is some redemption here for Sam Gold, the director. After he deliberately stripped all the poetic lyricism and butchered the magnificent The Glass Menagerie earlier this season with his awful minimalism, it’s minimalistic here as well, but it serves the purpose. With expert writing and excellent performances, I can easily see The Doll’s House, Part 2 being named the Best Play of the Year.



Edited by Scott Harrah
Published May 8, 2017
Reviewed at performance on May 7, 2017

A Doll's House, Part 2

‘A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2’: Laurie Metcalf & Condola Rashad. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

A Doll's House, Part 2

‘A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2’: Laurie Metcalf & Jane Houdyshell. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

‘A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2’: Laurie Metcalf & Jane Houdyshell. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

‘A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2’: Laurie Metcalf. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

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