Tuesday, April 23

A Doll’s House Part 2 – Donmar Warehouse

A dark house lifts off the stage to reveal its interior, and we are drawn into the intimate space. The story follows on from Ibsen’s classic, presenting their world fifteen years later. Nora has found purpose as a famous writer under a pseudonym but returns home to settle pressing legal matters.

The set designed by Rae Smith has a cool, clinical feel like it hasn’t been lived in as none of the characters are truly settled and its initial state is mysterious and bleak, like it holds a chamber of secrets.

Noma Dumezweni’s Nora is controlled and meticulously crafted. With a fierce moral code and ideals, she is earthy and wise yet there is something indefinable about her. As Nora’s interacts with the other characters, she is fluid and playful yet grounded by her unswerving principles.

Patricia Allison’s Emmy is reminiscent of Nora with her gracefulness, strong wit and inquiring mind. Allison has a wonderful stage presence and her eyes as Emmy sparkle as she scrutinises Nora.

© Marc Brenner

Anne Marie was played by an understudy for this performance, whose name was not known whilst I was writing this. She was brilliant, her dry humour and blunt delivery worked perfectly.

Brían F. O’Byrne’s Torvald is exceptional. We meet Torvald after hearing Nora and Anne Marie talking about him and are surprised to discover he seems reasonable and considerate. Yet both his and Nora’s decisions are shocking, dramatic and both are sometimes deluded. In this way, the play transcends the duality of antagonist and protagonist. I found my sympathies yo-yoing between different characters faster than my reasoning could keep up. James Macdonald’s directs these carefully constructed moments of tension and swift changes in dynamic.

Lucas Hnath’s clever script focuses on the idea of narrative and how events may be perceived and retold. It highlights human selfishness and choosing to view things through a limited perspective of selfhood or through an idealistic vision. His criticism of doing the right thing but out of selfish motivation is masterfully conveyed. The irony of Nora talking about the future which is actually our present is humorous and sparks ideas about which conventions will continue to disappear in the years to come.

Playing until 6th August, https://www.donmarwarehouse.com/

Reviewer: Riana Howarth

Reviewed: 23rd June 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★