BWW Review: A DOLL'S HOUSE: PART 2 at The Summit Playhouse
2019 marks the 101st season for veteran NJ community theatre Summit Playhouse. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the first play on the bill to kick off their next century also comes with a legendary past. For, as the title A Doll's House: Part 2 suggests, there is a rich past leading up to the ideas and characters being explored on Summit's stage this November. Lucas Hnath's recent play is about Nora, that famed feminist initially introduced to us by Ibsen, and what happened to her and the Helmer family after she strode out the door back in 1879.
For those unfamiliar with this history, Ibsen's A Doll's House centers around the unraveling relationship between Nora Helmer and her fiercely upstanding husband, Torvald. When a secret threatens to ruin Torvald's reputation, he lashes out at Nora who eventually decides to exit the marriage once and for all. And thus she slams the door and is gone - and remained gone until 2017, when Hnath resurrected her.
A Doll's House, Part 2, picks up 15 years after that initial door slam to examine how far we have come in our understanding of love, partnership, marriage and gender roles. Surprise, surprise - we have not come nearly as far as we think. And though one could say the discussion of how slow society is actually addressing these issues is an overwritten topic, Hnath is up to the task. His pacing is spot-on and he provides no easy answers, giving each character a convincing voice. It's a sparring match of wits - you will come away with thoughts.
And though this is an evening of debate, the cast makes sure it is also a human evening. David Romankow delivers a conflicted Torvald, one that feels organic and fresh amidst the cerebral dialogue. Alicia Hayes as Nora's youngest daughter Emmy gives a star turn too, imbuing her work with a youthful sense of urgency. Filling out the 4-person cast are the ever-funny Gloria Lamoureux as family nurse Anne Marie and Karen Thornton as the dynamic Nora, under the direction of Gordon Weiner.
A Doll's House: Part 2 is playing its final weekend at Summit Playhouse in the next few days. Nov. 15 and 16 at 8pm on 10 England Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901. Bring a friend and spend your evening with Nora and company. Perhaps its hard to hear we aren't as far along as we should be when it comes to gender politics, but hey - that's why plays like this exist.
For more information about the Playhouse and fore tickets please visit http://www.thesummitplayhouse.org/.