I mentioned in my last post that I had two contentious reviews and this is part 2. Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2” has opened to uniformly rapturous reviews. I’m sorry to say, I am a lone disagreer.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the night in the theater. Sam Gold has directed a smoothly moving production and shepherded great performances from Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper, Jane Houdyshell, and Condola Rashad. The concept is intriguing and the debate lively – but three objections on the script:
- The play uses modern vernacular with no attempt at placing the characters into their supposed actual time – 15 years after Nora storms out of her “doll house” to face the world, creating contemporary theater and the first feminist character. The anachronistic costumes and settings clashed with the dialogue and debate.
- Even with all the debate there seemed no urgent need to trod this ground. Beside rehashing old arguments from the play and spinning them around again to the same result (spoiler alert, Nora slams the door behind her again at the end of the play) there seemed nothing new.
- And having used the word debate three times already in my description, that is just my issue. It seemed an academic presentation rather than a true character exploration. Throughout I felt I was hearing the playwright’s voice (especially in the Emma section) and not the character’s voice. It was a classroom lecture dressed up in 19th century clothing.
I know my take is far in the minority and I have questioned myself many times since I saw the show and then read the reviews. But I cannot shake my feeling, even after looking over it closely. Glad I saw it, but wish it had taken a different approach. Lucky for the participants and the production, mine is a distinctly minority viewpoint.