Nora, Nora, Nora… a lot of people think you’re dead.
Fifteen years after Nora left her husband and children and exited her home for parts unknown, she has cause to return to the house of a marriage she assumed had ended long ago. Except—thanks to her husband Torvald’s spite, lassitude, and refusal to initiate divorce proceedings—it turns out she’s still legally married. And all of the gains of the past decade—her remarkable emergence as a best-selling, if pseudonymously billed, author—are now at risk. Hence Nora’s return: A mission of persuasion resulting in a final judicial separation.
In A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2, his 90-minute sequel to Ibsen’s classic drama, playwright Lucas Hnath illuminates all of Nora’s complications and contradictions—her integrity and fantastic sense of self necessarily at odds with her need to evade society’s constraints through manipulation. Of one thing she is absolutely sure: Marriage is a prison that results in nothing more or less than the foreclosure of a woman’s life.
But what of the life she left behind? Nora—beautifully played by Jennifer Shelton in a precise and highly comedic production by International City Theatre—must, alas, make her way through her former household to get what she wants. An encounter with the housekeeper Anne Marie (Eileen T’Kaye), who became the de facto mother of the children Nora abandoned, gives Nora a truer picture of the consequences of her actions fifteen years ago. It also prepares her for a meeting with her daughter, Emmy (Nicolette Ellis, a delight). Managing to one-up everyone around her as a monster of expedience, Emmy delivers a tour de force monologue defending her absolute opposition to everything her mother stands for, proposing a solution to the divorce that even Nora finds toxic in its calculation and deceit. So, in the end, it’s up to Torvald (Scott Roberts) and Nora. Will everything be destroyed once again? Or can they reach a point of independent reconciliation?
A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2 plays through May 1. See link below for details.
Written by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Trevor Biship-Gillespie
Through May 1
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 pm
Sunday at 2 pm
Beverly O’Neill Theater
330 East Seaside Way, downtown Long Beach
Lucas Hnath, A Doll’s House, Part 2, International City Theatre, Long Beach, April 13–May 1, 2021, directed by Trevor Biship-Gillespie, from top: Jennifer Shelton and Scott Roberts; Shelton; Eileen T’Kaye and Shelton; Nicolette Ellis and Shelton; Shelton and Roberts; Ellis, T’Kaye, and Roberts; Shelton and Roberts. Photographs by Kayte Deioma, courtesy of International City Theatre.