Mom Theatre Blogger: A Doll’s House, Part 2: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

(Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe)

In her 15 year absence since walking out on her husband and children, Nora Helmer has created a life for herself, and one that she wears well and proudly displays through her fine garb.

Now a successful author, she is empowered and driven and has returned, not to rekindle relationships, but for legal closure….to obtain a divorce once and for all.

A Doll’s House, Part 2, picks up where Henrik Ibsen’s classic leaves off, and it proves immensely satisfying as well as entertaining.

The stellar cast features Laurie Metcalf (Nora) who won a Tony Award for her portrayal, Condola Rashad as her daughter Emmy, Chris Cooper as her estranged husband Torvald and Jayne Houdyshell as Anne Marie, Torvald’s longtime, loyal housekeeper who served as caregiver to Nora’s three children with Torvald when she left them all behind.

No surprise here that it received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play  While it lost to Oslo, this 90 minute, no intermission, work is a masterful piece of theatre.

Written by Tony Award nominee Lucas Hnath, it is smart and witty, with moments of great insight (particularly about marriage) and inspired performances.

With a minimalist set, the focus becomes the canvas of each actor’s face, and there is much to glean. Tony Award  nominated Director Sam Gold draws fine work from each, and Metcalf, in particular, who barely leaves the stage, projects a powerhouse of emotion with her nuanced expressions and elastic postures, as she ever so skillfully milks a moment, whether drawing a laugh or pang. Both she and Nora are a force to be reckoned with.

The doe-eyed Rashad delivers a controlled and mannered performance, making us feel both the depth of her wounds and inner strength, as she lays out a strategic plan she implores her mother to follow, as Emmy shares her marital intentions.

Houdyshell is endearing and comical, and Cooper is commanding, yet captures the vulnerability of Torvald who has been living a pained existence.

The design team for A Doll’s House, Part 2 includes scenic design by Miriam Buether, costume design by Tony Award winner and 2017 Tony Award nominee David Zinn, lighting design by Tony Award winner and 2017 Tony Award nominee Jennifer Tipton, sound design by Tony Award winner Leon Rothenberg, hair and makeup design by Luc Verschueren/Campbell Young Associates, and projection design (very impactful) by Peter Nigrini.

Taking on Ibsen is no easy feat or decision, but Hnan does him proud.  Nora was ahead of her time when she decided to live life on her own terms.  As far as women have come, there are many a modern day Nora who struggle to forge their own path.  This is a subject that is not growing tired any time soon.

A Doll’s House, Part 2 is playing at the Golden Theatre, and the run was recently extended through January 7, 2018.