BWW Review: A DOLL'S HOUSE: PART 2 at Iowa Stage: Opening the Door to A New Look at Familiar Characters
Revisiting the past can be difficult. Sometimes it's addressing an issue that has come up, while at other times it can be about coming to terms with events or actions from our past. In "A Doll's House: Part 2", one of theatres most well know heroine's is doing just that. While "A Doll's House" is known for the door slamming at the end of the show, "A Doll's House: Part 2", being presented in rep at Iowa Stage, opens the door for us to revisit these characters, and look at women's roles in the family today.
While seeing one show is great, I highly recommend seeing both. Part of the fun of seeing "A Doll's House: Part 2", is seeing the parallels between both shows. From parallels within the plot to characters and even themes, having seen "A Doll's House," gave me an enriched experience with the show that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
"A Dolls House: Part 2" starts when Nora comes back to the house she left after 15 years. At first, she doesn't reveal why she has come home, but soon we discover she has come home to get Torvald to file for divorce. Something she thought he had done 15 years ago. This is important to her as she has become a successful author after writing her memories of what caused her to leave. The reason she needs the divorce to happen is slowly revealed. Will she get what she has come for?
One of the thrills of the night is seeing the genius directing of Jodi Jinks. If you have seen her shows before, you know she beautifully incorporates movement into her shows. This show is no different. As we had transitions of time between scenes, there was a dance to how the characters moved on and off the stage, as well as setting for the next scene. The brilliance of this is that at first, it seems quirky and funny, but as the show goes on, there is a moment that you realize that it is a commentary on the characters, and how they are dancing around the issues they need to be facing.
With this show only having 4 actors, I'm going to take a little time to talk about the amazing performances each of them gave. The first is Cheryl Clark's portrayal of Anne Marie. I enjoyed how tongue tied her character was at the top of the show when Nora came back in the door. I imagine that I would have probably had the same response, even if like her, I knew she was coming. She quickly became one of my favorite characters as she brought some of my favorite laughs of the whole night. Especially when her character went on a rant with some well-placed expletives when she finds out the real reason Nora has come back.
Another treat is Ashely Schaeffer as Emmy. I found her to be a great foil to Kerry Skram's Nora. Ashley was able to interpret the script in a way that made the character just as strong as Nora. She did a great job showing how the things Nora saw as weaknesses, her character found a way to make them strengths. I also appreciated that she didn't let the audience see how she felt about her mom from when they met for the first time. There was purpose in how much she let the audience see her feelings, and when she allowed us to see them.
In the role of Torvald is ISTC Resident Artist Tom Geraty. One of my favorite moments of him in the show is the look he gives when he sees Nora the first time and slowly realizes what this means. The look told a story of his own. What surprised me most about his performance was how he took this character and made the audience sympathetic to him. His nuanced performance acknowledged who the character was in the past, but also allowed the audience to see who the character had become. One of the scenes, when he did this, was when he turned the tables on Nora and shared how his character saw their relationship.
From the moment she comes in the door, ISTC Resident Artist Kerry Skram as Nora commands the audience's attention as she comes into the house and sees what has happened since she left. Having seen her in more dramatic roles in the past, I was pleasantly surprised to see the humor she brought to Nora at the top of the show. As she started delivering the monologues she did something I had not seen done in a show before. At times it felt as though she was talking to the people on stage, and at other times it felt as though she was talking directly to the audience. What I enjoyed about this delivery is that it was done in a way that didn't feel like her character was breaking the proverbial 4th wall.
Whether you have seen "A Doll's House" or not, Iowa Stage production of "A Doll House: Part 2" is an amazing production that stands on its own. While the set remains the same between both shows, with some slight modifications, the acting and directing make this show an experience you won't want to miss. The door closes on this fantastic production on October 13. To find out more about "A Doll's House: Part 2" visit https://www.iowastage.org/a-dolls-house-part-2