Nora Helmer epitomizes the modern emancipated woman when she storms out of her home, abandoning husband and children, in Henrik Ibsen’s classic ”A Doll’s House.” The fact that the year is 1879 and the country is Norway make her exit all the more shocking. Now a modern playwright Lucas Hnath has inserted a second chapter into the scenario with ”A Doll’s House Part 2,” fifteen years later when Nora knocks on that same door and demands admittance.
Hartford TheaterWorks is staging this dramatic “second act” until Sunday, February 24. Why has Nora returned? 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?
Tasha Lawrence’s Nora makes a slightly less dramatic entrance in 1894 than she did leaving fifteen years earlier. Anne Marie (Amelia White), the housekeeper, seems pleased to see her mistress but wonders what it means. When Torvald (Sam Gregory) unexpectedly arrives home, at first he does not even recognize Nora.
Her reappearance is soon explained. A judge has uncovered her identity, 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 Nora never divorced, the judge is threatening to have her arrested if she does not publicly confess her sins.
Will Torvald agree to divorce her, a fact that will expose his deceit in letting the community believe she died? What influence will Emmy (Kira Player), the youngest child she deserted, feel about her mother’s reappearance? Jenn Thompson 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, on a sparse polished set by Alexander Dodge, where the door through which Nora has exited and reentered stands guard.
For tickets ($35-70), call Hartford TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or go online at www.hartfordtheaterworks.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Come discover if Nora is the emancipated woman she claims to be and the achiever of all her goals.