BWW Review: A DOLL'S HOUSE, PART 2 at Round House Theater - A Powerful Production

BWW Review: A DOLL'S HOUSE, PART 2 at Round House Theater - A Powerful Production

When you leave the theater and you immediately purchase a copy of the play, that should indicate that you have really enjoyed it. This does not happen often but it happened to me as I left the Lansburgh Theatre (temporary home of the Round House during renovations) in DC. I loved A DOLL'S HOUSE, PART 2, I had to read it and enjoy it some more...and I did!

It was two years ago this Tony-nominated play by Lucas Hnath opened on Broadway starring Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper, Jayne Houdyshell and Condola Rashad.

The play opens with a soft knock on the door upstage. Then a louder knock and once again. The audience started to laugh. Why? Because they know who is on the other side of the door if they were familiar with Ibsen's famous A DOLL'S HOUSE. There it ends with one Nora Helmer leaving her husband Torvold, her three children, and housekeeper Anne Marie and shutting the front door so loud it reminded me of the slam at the end of SWEENEY TODD.

Fifteen years later Nora is back. One wonders where has she been? Many thought she was dead. Or did she remarry? Had there been a death certificate filed in her Norweigian town? Did Torvold file for a divorce? And if the answer is yes, to either, what are the ramifications of doing so? How would they affect a single woman in Norway in the 1880's? How is one in Nora's place to make a living? Other questions arise. Did Nora write to her children over the 15 year hiatus? Did she communicate with their Nanny Anne Marie?

You will find out the answer to these if you see the play. I will tell you that Nora was very astute at surviving by herself, living two years in silence, and finally becoming a successful writer of novels (using a pseudoname) which deal with the topic of women and encouraging them not to get married or leave their married life. Things become unraveled when a Judge from her hometown, reads one of the books, does some research and realizes who the real author is and threatens Nora with revealing this fact.

The intermissionless 90 minute play by Lucas Hnath flies by thanks to expert direction by Round House Associate Artistic Director Nicole A. Watson making her Round House directorial debut. What a great future she has. She has done a masterful job with a phenomenal cast.

Playing the iconic role of "Nora" is Holly Twyford and she nails her role with power and at the same time sensitivity. Craig Wallace plays the complex "Torvold" with a surprising bit of affection. Playing "Emmy" is the lovely Kathryn Tkel who has a great future ahead of her. Nancy Robinette, a theater veteran, is the housemaid of longstanding who gave up her own child to be the nanny for the three children following Nora's departure. She is terrific.

This is the second play I've seen by the 39 year old playwright Hnath, The first was THE CHRISTIANS that I saw at Baltimore Center Stage which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am now a huge Hnath fan. I'll see anything he writes.

The simple Set Design (outlined in the script) is by Paige Hathaway (who just finished working on the Everyman Theatre QUEENS GIRL in reportory). She includes a large white heating system in the home. Helen Huang does the period Costumes, and Roc Lee the Sound Design.

The play has five chapters. The first is the beginning, part 2 is entitled Torvold, part 3 is Anne Marie, part 4 is Emmy, and part 5 is Nora and Torvold. There are lovely blue neon lighting surrounding the stage at the beginning of each part. Excellent work by Lighting Designer Harold F. Burgess II.

This is a smart, entertaining, funny yet serious, and engaging night of theater. I can't wait for A DOLL'S HOUSE, PART 3!

If you can't make it to the theater, I recommend you read it.

A DOLL'S HOUSE, PART 2 continues at the Round House Theatre current location at the Shakespeare Theatre's Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th Street, NW in Washington, DC. For tickets, call 240-644-1100 or visit

Reserve the date, Saturday, August 24, 2019 for the Round House Theatre Community Open House. To celeberate the reopening of the renovated facility, check out a free day of tours, performances, demonstrations, and activities for children. Special ticket discounts will be available all day long.

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From This Author Charles Shubow

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