Theatre Review: ‘A Doll’s House part 2’ at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre

(left to right Marielle Young, Lisa Velten Smith, Helena Ruoti)
Run Time: 90 minutes, no intermission

Appropriate for children 15 and above

If you were given the chance to face see your ex after 15 years of separation what would you say?

Would you run? Argue, cry, avoid them?

Or… would you put on an act to let them know just how wonderful things are without them in your life?

Nora Helmer walks right into this very situation…. fifteen years after leaving her husband and children.

A Doll’s House part 2’ directed by Ted Pappas and written by Lucas Hnath is a peek inside the after math of the original play ‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen.

Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ show us a different Nora who has committed fraud to save her home and husband, all while juggling motherhood, being a good wife and keeping everyone happy.

Not to mention keeping her intelligence and crime a secret from her husband, who’d much rather see her as a damsel in distress who needs saving. A doll he plays with having her dance for him and many times threatening to keep her away from her children if she doesn’t behave.

Finally, Nora has had enough of sacrificing her integrity. Nora decide to leave her husband and her children to find a life on her own and no longer catering to the desires of men and the restricting rules of marriage.

Hnath picks up where Ibsen’s ends…. Nora (Lisa Velten Smith) enters her home after 15 years. Things have changed…she has changed. Nora must now deal with all the suppressed feelings and memories that come with leaving a place she was and is still so deeply connected to. Not to mention the people she abandoned.

The set is quite empty, only a few chairs sit in the room. The empty set reflects how much Nora’s presents no longer exists in the home and hasn’t for a long time.

Props and furniture are not needed in this play. The conversations exchanged between the characters fill every corner of the space. Each interaction reveals a little more about the character and what they want for their own selfish reasons.

Anne Marie played by Helena Ruoti is the least selfish. Ruoti connects deeply with the sacrifices Anne Marie makes for the sake of the Helmer family and her own livelihood. Ruoti shows raw emotion and excellent comedic timing. Dropping F bombs and tears gracefully. Anne Marie is the first to learn that Nora is still married to Torvald…but the real question is did she know all along?

Hnath introduces a new character to the audience. Emmy, Nora’s youngest and only daughter.

Nora knows Emmy doesn’t remember her. However, as a motherly gesture Nora wants to protect Emmy from getting sucked into this idea of marriage and being owned by your husband.

Emmy having been abandoned wants nothing more than to be owned by someone. Marielle Young who plays Emmy is quite the negotiator, she is confident, clear and direct. Emmy knows her mother is nothing more than a stranger and that is the mindset Young uses when speaking to Nora. Emmy is a force, who will not be swayed and like her mother is not afraid to break the law to get what she wants. Young present Emmy’s rebellion with poise.

Ultimately the conversation we all wanted to hear was that of Torvald and Nora. Hnath gives the audience what they want. The build up to this moment scene reflects the buildup of 15 years of anger and assumptions, arguing, even temper tantrums that end in exhaustion splayed out on the floor. Torvald played by Daniel Krell is a somewhat changed man, his pride has been hurt but not hard enough to give Nora what she wants without a fight. Krell does an excellent job at getting the audience to feel bad for him, the audience however still sees how he has and continues to treat Nora like a Doll.

Both Smith and Krell ignite in shared scenes, bouncing energy off on one another. It is fun to watch as their characters struggle to one up each other. Yet Smith and Krell remain generous on stage. As I watched I couldn’t decide whose side to be on. They both present valid arguements. Which only exposes home little they know about one another.There are so many secrets revealed in ‘

There are so many secrets revealed in ‘A Doll’s House part 2’. You owe it to yourself to witness this hilarious, thought provoking play.

A Doll’s House part 2’ runs until April 7th please click the link for ticket information.

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