This was another great show with a perfect cast. This time it was an evening performance and rtb and Mrs. Devereaux were joining me. When we got to the mezzanine section of the Golden Theatre both rtb and Mrs. Devereaux were told by the first usher that we might be able to move further down (we had seats in the last row of the rear mezzanine). We were talking when suddenly rtb said, “Now!” and people started moving down. I didn’t even hear the usher make the announcement. There was a traffic jam in the aisle as we tried to get down to one of the front rows of the rear mezzanine but Mrs. Devereaux scored three seats in the first row of the rear mezzanine. Another usher came by to tell us that we had to move to the second row but then the first usher told us to stay unless someone who had paid for those seats showed up. Luckily no one did. So, I was unhappy that the house wasn’t full but again happy to get a seat closer to the stage.
The name of the play, A Doll’s House, Part 2, was hanging from the ceiling. Lucas Hnath’s story begins 15 years after Henrik Ibsen’s play ended. The set is the living room of the Helmer house. It’s bare because Torvald (Chris Cooper) has gotten rid of anything that had belonged to Nora (Laurie Metcalf) – there’s only four chairs and an end table and there’s an orange rug. And there’s the big door which Nora slammed shut behind her 15 years before. The sign goes up and disappears and the doorbell rings. Nora is at the door. Her former nanny, who then took care of Nora’s children, Anne Marie (Jayne Houdyshell) answers the door. Nora is dressed in a beautiful blue dress and hat and has obviously done well for herself. She’s back to ask her former husband for a favor. At one point, she asks her now grown daughter Emmy (Condola Rashad) to intervene but is unsuccessful. Nora and Torvald fight and discuss and Nora finally gets what she wants but then refuses to take it. Everyone has learned more about themselves during Nora’s absence and Nora and Torvald come to an understanding before she goes through the door again leaving open the possibility of her returning for another visit. The feminist themes continue in this sequel. Despite her independence, Nora is still handcuffed because of the laws.
The play is one act with no intermission. There are blackouts between scenes and the names of each of the characters appear on the wall at the beginning of a scene where that character is the focus. We could see a technician running the lights from the right box seats. It’s a small theater and I guess that was the only place to put him.
A Doll’s House, Part 2 was funnier than I thought it would be. Part of that was the use of modern language even though the costumes were period (and gorgeous).
You don’t have to be familiar with A Doll’s House in order to enjoy this new play even though there are references to it, which sometimes generates a laugh. It’s been a while since I’d seen it so I did look up the plot on Wikipedia earlier in the day.
I can’t say enough about the performances. Metcalf is a wonder. She’s on stage for the entire play and she has some intense dialogue. Rashad is always letter perfect. Here she appears to be an innocent but soon reveals that she’s well aware of her mother’s motives and everything that is going on around her. Cooper has a quieter role and he steals the scenes with his quiet intensity. And Houdyshell gets lots of laughs with her no bullshit way of being.
Sam Gold did a terrific job at directing. There were moments when I wondered if certain choices had been made by the actor or thought of by the director but either way he would have encouraged those bits of business. The rest of the creative team also shined – scenic designer Miriam Buether, costume designer David Zinn, lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, sound designer Leon Rothenberg, hair and make-up designer Luc Verschueren, and projection designer Peter Nigrini.
By Carene Lydia Lopez