Robert Tanitch reviews A Doll’s House Part 2 at Donmar Warehouse, London

When Nora Helmer left her husband and three children in 1879 and the door slammed behind her, the sound resonated across Europe and brought Henrik Ibsen instant success and international fame.

There were some 19th-century critics who were shocked enough by Nora’s behavior and Ibsen’s message (marriage is not sacrosanct) to see it A dollhouse since (I quote) is only suitable for an audience of doctors and prostitutes.

A German actress who declared she would never leave her children refused to play Nora as written. Ibsen gave her a happy ending. There were also happy endings in British and American productions.

Torvald, Nora’s husband, treats her as if she were a child and sees her first and foremost as a wife and mother with a sacred duty to him and their children. Nora, who has been spoiled and patronized her entire life, finally realizes that she is human first and committed to herself.

Since its premiere, theater audiences around the world have been wondering how Nora fared. Famous playwrights like Strindberg, Shaw and Thornton Wilder have written sequels.

Lucas Hnaths A Doll’s House, Part 2, which opened in New York in 2017 and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play, is set 15 years after she left and just when she found out Torvald never divorced her. She needs a divorce if she’s going to stand up to any charges.

The London premiere, directed by James Macdonald, is well cast and well worth seeing. The Donmar is now a circular theater and the auditorium is so dark that spectators have trouble finding their row and seat numbers.

The dark exterior walls of a house fill the stage. The frame of the house is raised to reveal a brightly lit platform with just four chairs and a small table. The actors wear clothes from the 19th century. The dialogue feels very modern, but not intrusive.

15 years later, Nora is no longer the Nora her husband Torvald knew. The bride’s child, the little songbird, naive and frivolous, is gone; and in his place is a very different person: a cultured woman and feminist who has had many lovers and is the author of a best-selling novel that denounces marriage and has shocked many.

Hnath debates Nora’s options in duels with Torvald (Brian F. O’Byrne), her former nanny (June Watson), and her daughter (Patricia Allison), a bright girl who is now grown and engaged .

Nora by Noma Dumezweni is not a likeable or pleasant character. It is Nora’s nanny who sacrificed her own life to raise Nora’s children who will win everyone’s heart. She is a character created by Hnath and brilliantly played by June Watson. It’s a beautiful, perfect performance. Her swear words always get a laugh, precisely because they are so anachronistic and so unexpected.

The production lasts 100 minutes and is traded without a break. Lucas Hnaths A dollhouse part 2 will appeal to all Ibsenists and those who enjoy a good debate.

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Robert Tanitch reviews A Doll’s House Part 2 at Donmar Warehouse, London

Source link Robert Tanitch reviews A Doll’s House Part 2 at Donmar Warehouse, London

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