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A Doll’s House Part 2 is a static follow up

Actresses Leslie O’Carroll and Barbra Wengerd on stage.
Photo courtesy of Adams VisCom / DPCA Press

On Sept. 6, the Denver Center of Performing Arts (DCPA) Theatre Company transported its audiences back to 1870s Norway into the life of Nora Helmer, her husband Torvald, and their four kids. The revolutionary and classical play A Doll’s House, written by Henrik Ibsen, was both provocative and controversial for its time and continues to be significant today, as it tackles a woman’s role in society and her opportunities for self-fulfillment in a male-dominated world. However, it was the final scene in A Doll’s House that caused a sensation, when Nora slams the door on her domestic duties in exchange for modern independence.

It wasn’t until Sept. 22 that audiences learned what happened after the slam, as DCPA became the first company to present Ibsen’s play, along with writer Lucas Hnath’s contemporary sequel A Doll’s House Part 2 back-to-back. A Doll’s House Part 2 shows Nora 15 years later walking back through the same doors she left behind in puffs of smoke, sporting a flamboyant Victorian-themed pantsuit complete with red and turquoise floral decals.

The entire story takes place in the remnants of Nora Helmer’s old home with imprints of where furniture used to be, paint fading off the walls, and empty rods that once held beautiful draperies. Nora (Barbra Wengerd), who is now a woman’s author, finds herself in hot water with a judge, as her radical ideas caused his wife to leave him. Seeking help, Nora tries to scheme with her nanny, Anne-Marie (Leslie O’Carroll), to get Torvald (Michael Schnatz) to commit to a divorce, so she won’t be exposed as a fraud.

Compared to its original counterpart, A Doll’s House Part 2 is all comedy full of secrets, lies, and schemes with one of the best scenes in the play showing Ann-Marie fuming at Nora for dragging her in her drama yelling, “Fuck you, Nora!”

With a cast of only four actors, each hold their own, tackling issues surrounding gender roles, divorce and adultery, love in marriage, and women’s duties to their children. Wengerd’s Nora is quirky and sassy and plays well off of O’Carroll’s Ann-Marie, who is stubborn yet empathetic. At the same time, Nora’s daughter, Emmy (Anastasia Davidson), completely juxtaposes her mother, as she is highly disciplined and often intimidating (though audiences can’t blame her since her mother walked out on her at infancy).

The play, however, heavily relies on monologues and utilizes silence between the characters one too many times in its hour-and-a-half runtime. Furthermore, the plot remains stagnant and doesn’t address or solve any of the issues that drive the entire plot of Part 2. Nonetheless, both A Doll’s House and A Doll’s House 2 proved to its audience that it remains both a timely classic and politically relevant, as it echoes the same sentiments expressed in the #MeToo movement.

A Doll’s House and

A Doll’s House Part 2

Now through Sept. 30

Ricketson Theater

denvercenter.org

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