*A Doll's House, Part 2,* 6/11/17
Richard and I saw *A Doll's House, Part 2* on Broadway on 6/11/17. It's a new play by Lucas Hnath, a pseudo sequel to Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play *A Doll's House.* Spoiler alert! That play ends with the central character, Nora, leaving her husband and children to start her own life. The very last moment has Nora leaving the house and slamming the door, what a contemporary critic called "the door-slam heard round the world." This new play starts 15 years later. Nora is coming back to the house she had left and has interactions with the nanny who raised her (and has since raised her children), her estranged husband, and her daughter, the eldest of her three children.
The play was exciting, thought-provoking, surprising, and surprisingly funny. The actors were costumed in the late 19th century style, but the four chairs were in the mid-century modern high Scandanavian style, the dialogue was often contemporary in flavor (with a few well-placed droppings of the F bomb), and most amusingly, there was a box of tissues on the small table. The tissues bothered Richard, I didn't even notice the anachronism! Which shows you how cleverly the contemporary elements were worked out by the author and director Sam Gold.
All four actors put in stellar performances. Oscar winner Chris Cooper played Nora's husband, his first Broadway appearance since 1980. I think he'll be back again soon! He was marvelous, did a great job in a tricky role. He, more than anyone, showed how Nora is greatly responsible for the corner into which she has painted herself. He has a wonderful ease onstage, and he and Laurie Metcalf had wonderful chemistry.
Jayne Houdyshell played the nanny. She was hilarious, the funniest character in the show. But her comedy came from a strong and characterful place, which added richness not just to her performance but to the whole show. Condola Rashad played Nora's daughter. Richard and I both noticed how, early in the show, the air turns cold whenever Nora's children are mentioned - - it was shocking in 1879 that a woman would leave her husband, but it was unimaginable that she would leave her three small children. Rashad did a stellar job showing the consequences of Nora's act, and showed it in a quiet way, making it that much more powerful.
The most impressive performance was by Laurie Metcalf as Nora. This is a real tour de force role, and Metcalf held nothing back. Funny, grand, desperate, defeated, resplendent. Her performance was both monumental and human. She won the Tony that night, entirely deserving. She's a master at her craft, and I will see her in everything she does.
One more thing before I close: there was an elderly gentleman walking upstairs at the same time as me when I arrived. He got to the top of the stairs and the usher said to him, "This is a 90-minute play with no intermission. The restrooms are downstairs." He said, "I'm fine, I peed yesterday."