What happened to Nora
after she left her husband?
A Doll’s House – Part 2 is second play (or 3rd?) that addresses this question
By Byron Toben
I’ve been waiting for 13 months, eagerly anticipating The Segal Centre’s A Doll’s House – Part 2 and it fully lived up to expectations.
As I mentioned in my review of Persephone Productions Abigail/1702, sequels of famous stage plays, unlike films or TV shows, are rare.
… The Segal Centre’s mounting of Part Two is a must see for theatre buffs as well as feminist supporters (an early one of whom was Ibsen’s own mother-in-law).
G. Bernard Shaw greatly championed Henrik Ibsen (the father of modern realistic theatre) who had written the controversial A Doll’s House.
As a Shaw fan, I was particularly intrigued with What Happened to Nora After She Left Her Husband? which was indeed the title of an earlier 1979 play exploring this question. That play was written by 2004 Nobel literature winner Elfriede Jelinek and presented as part of a staged reading Her Side of the Story by Imago Theatre at the Centaur in early November a year ago.
Buried in my collection of Shaviana is a reference by GBS (who had become a friend of Sigmund Freud in exile in London) that Freud’s daughter, Anna, herself a noted psychoanalyst, had written such a conjectural script. If and when I find it, I would love to help its being staged.
Meanwhile, The Segal Centre’s mounting of Part 2 is a must see for theatre buffs as well as feminist supporters (an early one of whom was Ibsen’s own mother-in-law).
‘Special kudos to Caitlin Murphy, in her directorial stage debut having been a Segal dramaturge in residence for three seasons.’
Lucas Hnath, who wrote this play, has done a masterful job of blending characters and clues from the original into creating a credible scenario. For instance, when Nora returns to the house after 15 years away, she finds tending it still her old nurse maid, Anne-Marie (wonderfully developed by local vet Victoria Barkoff).
Nora herself is perfectly depicted as a confident and emancipated new woman by Winnipeg import Sarah Constible.
Abandoned husband Torvald is shaken up and at a loss for words upon viewing her return and hard to visualize an actor portraying this better than Oliver Becker.
Ellie Moon, once a Segal Centre usher and now a successful actor and playwright is a fine choice as Emmy, the youngest of Nora’s three abandoned children.
The minimalist set designed by Pierre Etienne Lucas is adorned by two chairs which are sat on and wielded about so as to become almost supporting characters themselves, as is the house door from which Nora departed 15 years earlier. (The most use made of chairs since Ionescu’s 1952 Les Chaises.)
Special kudos to Caitlin Murphy, in her directorial stage debut having been a Segal dramaturge in residence for three seasons.
The stage movements of the four characters, a cooperative effort of director and actors, was enough to enliven a basic talk piece, but not so much as to distract from the unveiling relationships, where each character has hidden motivations in addition to their stated ones.
Credit also Segal Artistic director Lisa Rubin for selecting, as she did in Bad Jews, one of the most currently produced plays for its Montreal premiere.
A Doll’s House – Part 2 continues at the Segal Centre until December 9.
Images: Leslie Schachter
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Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.