Review: ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ at John Golden Theatre

By Jonathan Spira on 23 July 2017
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Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” is a three-act play that was first performed in 1879. Set in a small Norwegian town of that era it explores the fate of Nora Helmer, who, as a married woman in late 19th century Norway, lacks the legal status and ability to simply be herself. At the end of the play, Nora leaves the house, a slammed door heard around the world.

Fifteen years later, “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” written by Lucas Hnath, picks up where Ibsen’s work left off. Nora returns home, knocking on the same door she slammed shut 15 years earlier, seeking a divorce and discovering that her husband, Torvald, had essentially declared her dead.

Laurie Metcalf, who originated the role of Nora and won a Tony Award for it this year, is leaving the show this weekend and your two intrepid theater critics, John Buckley and myself, caught her final evening performance.

The play, directed by Sam Gold of “Fun Home” fame, was nominated for eight Tonys and had been scheduled for a limited engagement that would close on July 23. Its run has, however, been extended into early 2018.

Fortunately, actress Jayne Houdyshell, who won a Tony for her role in “The Humans,” will remain as Anne Marie, who abandoned her own child to become Nora’s nanny and later assumed the same role for Nora’s children. Houdyshell received a well-deserved Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding featured actress in a play for her portrayal of Anne Marie.

“Nora, Nora, Nora,” exclaims Anne Marie, marveling at how well she appears to have done in the course of her lengthy absence. Just what has she been doing? Nora won’t, at least at first, say but her coyness keeps the audience laughing.

“Keep guessing,” says Nora, enjoying the game. “This is fun.”

Julie White, who won a Tony for “The Little Dog Laughed,” will assume the role of Nora and be on the receiving end of Houdyshell’s unforgettable reactions to Nora’s return, which include the memorable “Fuck you, Nora!”

Also exiting the cast are Chris Cooper, who plays Torvald, and Condola Rashad, who plays Nora’s abandoned daughter Emmy.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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