BWW Review: A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 at LG Art Center, 'Welcome back Nora!'
One of Henrik Ibsen's most famous works, A DOLL'S HOUSE concluded with Nora closing the door of what she used to consider as home. The most frequently asked question about the ending of A DOLL'S HOUSE is 'what happened to Nora?" Just like many of the readers, playwright Lucas Hnath wondered about the future of Nora and decided to write a sequel with a modern perspective. Having received eight nominations including Best Play at the 71st TONY Awards, A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 had its first performance in Korea on April 10th.
In one interview, playwright Luca Hnath mentions how the controversial issues that rose when A DOLL'S HOUSE was first released are still applicable and crucial to modern society. He also states that though A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 is about two people who cannot have a "real conversation," through them we can learn how much things have changed and think about the true meaning of gender equality. Due to this, many of the lines of A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 directly deal with gender roles. A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 starts with Nora coming back to her home 15 years later. Her only reason coming back is to finalize a divorce from Torvald and she needs him to file the official papers. Anne Marie, the family nanny, Torvald, Nora's husband, and Emmy Helmer, Nora's daughter questions her about what she has been up to for the past 15 years and express their recriminations toward her.
The set of the show was quite simple with the most significant set piece, the door placed at the center of the stage. There are two chairs placed downstage which represent the distance and attitude of the characters. For example, when Nora sits down to talk with Torvald, she places the two chairs facing each other. However, to show that he is not willing to talk to Nora, Torvald changes the location of one of the chairs to face the audience rather than Nora. One interesting aspect of the set design was the signs hanging above. Including the title of the show, each of the character names was put in big signs and when the story's focus shifted to a different character, the sign of the character lit up. Not only was it aesthetically pleasing but it helped the audience to understand the flow of the play and focus on each of the character's reaction and dialogue.
A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 is a significant piece of work in that just as the playwright mentioned, the play discusses controversial yet important issues especially related to gender. One topic that is repeatedly mentioned is the concept of marriage. Nora states how marriage and love are different and that women should acknowledge that they have a choice to live their own lives. Not only that there is one scene where Anne Marie tells Nora that the children needed a mother and that she had abandoned her children for her own selfish reasons. However, here Nora states how it is not only the women's responsibility to take care of the household and that when men leave, the women are the ones left with no choice but to deal with the burden of maintaining the household. These are just a few examples of how the play shows the bare reality of toxic masculinity, sexism, and the unfair gender roles we were taught to believe in.
Starting from 2018, feminism and fighting for gender equality have been two major issues in South Korea. Though the start was rough, there have been many improvements but due to this, a big invisible war between men and women has started. As a young female from a society that is rapidly changing and influenced by gender equality issues, A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 was a show that I could easily relate to. Nora is not simply just a character from a play; she represents the brave females that sacrifice themselves to make a better future for all. A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 clearly showed why gender roles and equality is an issue that we have to constantly think about.