Now in its ninth season, The Naked Stage Readers Theatre prides itself on choosing plays that appeal to lakeside audiences. Their June production is no exception.
“A Doll’s House, Part 2” was nominated for eight Tony Awards in 2017, and Laurie Metcalf (best known as Roseanne’s sister Jackie in the sitcom) won Best Actress for her performance as the infamous Nora.
Henrik Ibsen wrote “A Doll’s House” in 1879. Playwright Lucas Hnath has set the scene for his sequel 15 years after Nora left her husband and children, in the famous door-slamming final scene. But it’s not necessary to have read or seen Ibsen to enjoy this production.
In “Part 2” Nora has returned, but Hnath has propelled her, through contemporary language and characterization, into the 21st Century, condensing the original and the sequel into a complex and thought-provoking story that will leave audiences arguing right and wrong as they leave the theater. The production is directed by Lila Wells, a long-time board member of Naked Stage and frequent director and actress in the company’s productions. The cast consists of well known actor/resident Fred Koesling as the confused and misunderstood Torvald, newcomer to town Kathleen Pharis as the nursemaid who ended up running the household for Nora, young beautiful Jennifer Wisniewski as her abandoned daughter and in her first leading role, and newcomer to the stage Sharon Lowry as the now successful novelist Nora.
In 1878, Ibsen called “A Doll’s House” a “modern tragedy” since “a woman cannot be herself in modern society because it is an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint.”
At the end of the play, Nora, fed up with being treated like a doll by her husband, flouts traditional behavior and theatrical convention by leaving her husband and children, slamming the door on her way out. One critic noted, “That slammed door forever reverberated across the roof of the world.”
Now it is 15 years later and Nora is back, knocking on that door. She is a successful novelist but it seems she is still hampered by law and convention. She needs help from her husband. Will he forgive her? Will her daughter? This is a fascinating modern take on feminism and a door that was once slammed so hard that the noise could be heard around the world is now being knocked upon, most insistently.
Said Ben Brantley in The New York Times: “In the opening moments of Hnath’s smart, funny and utterly engrossing new play, audience members laugh at the sound of the demanding tattoo being beaten upon that door. That’s because they have probably guessed who’s on the other side.
Welcome back, Mrs. Helmer, if that’s the name you still go by. And just what do you have to say for yourself after all these years? Quite a lot, it turns out, and they are words to hang on.”
The Naked Stage is on the Carretera in Riberas del Pilar, across from the Catholic church and in front of the Baptist church. Parking is available in the parking lot of the Baptist church.