‘A Doll’s House Part 2’ another theater gem 'Hilarious and bold,' sequel stands perfectly on its own

Nora comes home after 15 years. Photo by Tim Fort

By David Lampe-Wilson
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Weston Playhouse at Walker Farm offers up another gem of a production with A Doll’s House, Part 2, a follow-up to Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 controversial masterwork .

In playwright Lucas Hnath’s sequel, it is 15 years after Nora Helmer rejected her domestic life and now returns to the place she once called home with an urgent request.

This hilarious and bold play examines marriage, family and traditional gender roles nearly 150 years after the original A Doll’s House was written, a play that is considered the birth of modern realism in theater, and one that caused a scandal for its criticism of 19th-century marriage customs and of its a portrayal of a woman abandoning her family in order to gain a sense of self.

Anne Marie, left, and Nora talk about what they’ve been up to. Photo by Hubert Schriebl

The last time we saw Nora, she slammed the door in one of the most famous exits in modern drama; that act prompts an entrance in Part 2. Hnath’s dialog bristles with tension, provocation and unexpected subversive humor.

The play, performed in a single act of 90 minutes, is an ingenious elaboration, as well as a deconstruction, of the original A Doll’s House. And thankfully, as a sequel, it stands perfectly well on its own.

The dialogue, served up alongside some hefty monologues, is deep, rich, precise and layered with wit, and under the detailed-oriented eye of Director Mary B. Robinson, it is performed by a quartet of talented players. Kathleen McNenny’s Nora walks through the imposing door, takes center stage and performs the demanding role with fluidity and clarity.

Torvald comes home to find Anne Marie with Nora. Photo by Hubert Schriebl

McNenny never leaves the stage in those 90 minutes and we are always engaged. Boyd Gaines plays jilted husband Torvald in a performance that is both funny and illuminating as he is forced to navigate 15 years of lies and deception.

Margo Seibert puts her own stamp on Nora’s daughter, Emmy, offering up plenty of grit to counter her long-lost mother’s opinions with a host of her own. Lizbeth Mackay provides plenty of laughs and a few tears as Anne Marie, the nanny/housekeeper who stayed behind to keep the Helmer household on an even keel.

Technical aspects are sterling from Scenic Designer Jason Simms spartan set to Costume Designer Greier Coleman’s period wardrobe to Ann G. Wrightson’s precision lighting.

Emmy, left, and Emmy talk. Photo by Tim Fort.

If you are looking for a bit of variety in your theater-going life, if you are looking for a play with both wit and intelligence, you won’t go wrong with A Doll’s House, Part 2.

A Doll’s House, Part 2 runs through Aug. 26 at Second Stage at Walker Farm, 705 Main St., Weston. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees on Wednesday and Saturday and 3 p.m. matinees on Sunday. Tickets are $43 for adults, $21.50 for students and can be reserved here. For more  information, click here or call 802-824-5288.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeIn the ArtsReviews

About the Author: After 30 years as a theater critic and arts editor for a Connecticut daily newspaper, David Lampe-Wilson transplanted to Vermont with his wife and two cats.

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