Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Doll’s House, Part 2—Artists Rep—SW Portland

        The Glass House

     This proposed sequel to Ibsen’s classic of about 100 years ago, is written by Lucas Hnath and directed by Luan Schooler.  It is playing at their space, 1515 SW Morrison St., through March 3rd.  For more information, go to their site at

     When Nora slammed that door, at the end of Ibsen’s, A Doll’s House, it not only ushered in a new wave of theatre expression, Naturalism, but began a woman’s movement that echoes into the present day, MeToo Movement.  That gesture espoused, quite simply, that a woman had rights, and if her present circumstances were hampering that, she had every right to slam the door on that situation and chart her own course!

     And so, here we are in this story, 15 years later and Nora (Linda Alper) returns to her old residence.  She is appalled by the fact that all of her old furniture and keepsakes have disappeared.  But she is greeted by her ole nanny and maid, Anne Marie (Vana O’Brien).  She explains some of the many changes that have taken place since Nora abandoned her husband and three children some years before.  Likewise, Nora fills her in on the new life that she has fostered

     What is not anticipated is that Torvald (Michael Mendelson), unexpectedly comes home early.  The reason for her visit is that he has forgotten to file some legal papers when she left and she wishes to clear that up.  In this era of history, women were completely under the control of men and had no rights themselves.  But there are still some old wounds to heal and, perhaps, flames to extinguish, or fan.  They seem to have reached an impasse.  But there is another hurdle to overcome, her daughter, Emmy (Barbie Wu), now a young woman, has her own perspective on the situation and so, the diatribes rage on toward, hopefully, a satisfying conclusion.  And all the arguments from the many perspectives have a certain validity.  To discover the outcome, see it for yourself….

     The results of this play by Hnath are used as a springboard for forecasting the future, possibly, of women, family dynamics and relationships.  A solid truth that runs through it, is that people mature, change and evolve over time.  So, individually, how does that reconcile with relationships that one has committed to?  How to sustain Love in a modern era is no easy task and has no definitive solution.  We are who we are today Because of circumstances, not In Spite of them.  “…and the beat goes on….”

     Schooler has chosen a well-honed cast and they tear up the stage, all totally convincing in their portrayals.  Alper gives us a Nora in which “the world is too much with her.”  She may be weary but has an iron will and that works very well for the character.  O’Brien is a treasure as the old retainer, who radiates a life of sacrifice beyond her humble “station.”  Mendelson always is a joy to watch onstage.  He gives the husband such a vulnerability with his power, that you, indeed, feel a certain sympathy for his plight.  And Wu, as the daughter, thrusts a life and spirit, and even a wisdom beyond her years, into Emmy.  She is exciting to watch, as they all are!

     I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


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