Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires

A Doll's House, Part 2
Long Wharf Theatre
Review by Fred Sokol | Season Schedule

Also see Zander's review of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Fred's reviews of Cadillac Crew, and The Music Man


Maggie Bofill and Jorge Cordova
Photo by T. Charles Erickson
Director Will Davis's star shines brightly for his innovative realization of A Doll's House, Part 2, continuing at Long Wharf Theatre through May 26th. Lucas Hnath's 2017 play has been produced frequently recently (the production at TheaterWorks in Hartford a few months back was excellent). Through his vision and subsequent setting for Long Wharf, Davis is blazingly distinctive. It is all about his perceptive concept of the work.

The look of the show (perhaps a collaboration developed by designer Arnulfo Maldonado and Davis) is transfixing. While Norway is the locale, 15 years after Nora departed Torvald Helmer and their children in the latter part of the 19th century, the scene at the New Haven based theater is absolutely tropical. Moss hangs above the stage and a tree appears to be growing through the floor boards. Greenery surrounds the house interior. Heat seems to be generated.

Those who have either read or seen Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House already know that Torvald was a controlling chauvinistic man and Nora, his wife, who could no longer cope with subservience and victimization, slammed the door in his face and left her family.

Hnath brings her back. She, one gathers, has done well. Costumer Dana Botez provides her with a lovely one-piece flowing outfit and Nora is now self-assured and confident. Greeting her as she enters through a rear door, is longtime housekeeper, the outspoken Anne Marie (Mia Katigbak). Anne Marie, more than once, reminds Nora that she, Anne Marie, has raised the Helmer children. The two women engage in vocal parrying.

Suddenly and surprisingly, Torvald (Jorge Cordova), who typically never interrupts his work day, returns home since he has forgotten something. It takes him more than a couple of minutes to recognize Nora. She is there, she explains, since Torvald never signed their divorce papers; hence, they are still married. Nora has become a successful writer, under a pseudonym, and it will be to her benefit to be legally and formally detached from Torvald. He knows that her fictionalized book delves into the past he and she experienced. Nora now has her own strong voice and, for a time, Torvald, with her in their house once again, listens to it.

A fourth character, Nora and Torvald's daughter Emmy (Sasha Diamond), enters the 90-minute play and speaks words of truth to the power of her mother. Nora is audacious and so is her daughter. Each is a feminist. Hnath's dialogue here and elsewhere is sharp.

Torvald is complicated. He is shocked and taken aback to see his wife and attempts to hear her—for a while. He is not, however, spineless and will give as good as he gets.

Toward the very end of this dynamic but not melodramatic evening of theater, Nora and Torvald are flat on their backs as they fume at one another. During an earlier instance, Davis fully utilizes the one Victorian chair on stage as a multi-useful prop. The director's choices are inviting and original.

As Nora, Maggie Bofill speaks in tones best described as clear, 21st century American. Those on stage, during varying moments, are all high caliber performers. The production, very much thanks to Will Davis's interpretation, is spirited and absorbing. Long Wharf is wise to fully show the set as theatergoers settle in their seats before a word is uttered.

A Doll's House, Part 2, through May 26, 2019, at Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Dr., New Haven CT. For tickets, and information call 203-787-4282 or visit longwharf.org.


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