Thanks to Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, an outspoken and liberated woman named Nora Helmer asserted her rights as a wife, in 1879, and stormed out of her home, The echo of that door shutting, with her husband and children abandoned, was monumental. What has happened to Nora since that fateful day? Does she regret her decision to leave? Did she achieve her victory for womanhood or was her act premature and unfulfilled?
Today a modern playwright Lucas Hnath has inserted a new chapter into the scenario with ”A Doll’s House Part 2.” It’s fifteen years later and Nora knocks on that same door and demands admittance to her home. Why has she returned?
New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre is staging this dramatic “second act” until Sunday, May 26. Does she seek a reconciliation with her husband Torvald? Where has she been during her time of escape? Has the world changed so much that she feels free to come home? The answers are awaiting you on an interesting outdoor inspired set designed by Arnulfo Maldonado.
Maggie Bofill’s Nora makes a slightly less dramatic entrance in 1894 than she did leaving years earlier when she felt her marriage was suffocating her. Anne Marie (Mia Katigbak), the housekeeper, seems pleased to see her mistress but wonders what it means and soon regrets her reappearance. When Torvald (Jorge Cordova) unexpectedly arrives home to fetch a forgotten set of papers, at first he does not even recognize Nora. When he does, he is not pleased.
Her reappearance is soon explained. A judge has uncovered her identity as a novelist who has been writing under a pseudonym, encouraging women to abandon their husbands and be independent, and even never to marry in the first place. Having learned Torvald never divorced her, the judge is threatening to have her arrested if she does not publicly confess her sins. What effect will this deception have on all involved?
Will Torvald agree to divorce her, a fact that will expose his deceit in letting the community believe she died? What influence will Emmy (Sasha Diamond), the youngest child she deserted, feel about her mother’s reappearance? Will Davis keeps the tension tight as each character makes their own plea. The acting is forceful and succeeds in keeping the audience guessing its dramatic resolution, with many unexpected signs of humor peeking through the door.
For tickets ($30 and up), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Is Nora the emancipated woman she claims to be and the achiever of all her goals or is she in danger of losing everything? Here is a gambler capable of rolling the dice, no matter what the consequences.