A Doll’s House, Part 2: Nora’s Back

I love A Doll’s House. I love that it pushed boundaries at the time when it was written and Ibsen was forced to write an alternative ending because it gave such a middle finger to conventional endings. (To be clear: I don’t like that he had to write an alternative ending though to get it produced.) I saw it three years ago at BAM  and it was an exquisite production. I didn’t know what to expect at all from A Doll’s House: Part 2, or even why it’d be written (by Lucas Hnath) but Kristen and I both love Laurie Metcalf so we grabbed tickets on TDF and went last Sunday. Our seats were in the front-rear mezzanine which was fine. There’s only one setting and all the action takes place downstage.

There was modern punk rock music being played during walk-in which was very unexpected but also awesome, and also reminiscent of the walk-in music used during Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. All good things.

A Doll’s House: Part 2 takes place 15 years after Nora (Metcalf) walks out on her husband and she’s back now because she wrongly assumed that her husband had filed divorce papers after she’d walked out and when that turned out not to be the case, she realized her career (writing books about why women should feel  free to leave their husbands and how marriage is a sham) was in jeopardy. Sorry, spoiler? She has a huge monologue when she first arrives at the house and is talking to Anne Marie (the impeccable and hysterical Jayne Houdyshell) that is up my alley, 100%. She says something about why get married to spend the rest of your life with someone? You can do that without getting legal papers involved, she says, and I concur.

I was so onboard after her rant and ate up every word that Nora said. Torvald (the stern and unforgiving Chris Cooper) refuses to divorce her because she walked out and her daughter Emmy (the matter-of-fact and comical Condola Rashad) has a rebuttal for every one of Nora’s cynical comments about marriage, as she herself is engaged. And Metcalf is incredible, as always. She’s irreverent and direct and loves her life since she left her husband.

I won’t tell you it ends, but I went in not knowing what to expect and loved every minute of this 90-minute-no-intermission masterpiece of a follow-up on a classic play. It closes on July 23rd, so get your tickets soon.

Sweat, by Lynn Nottage

A couple of weekends ago I saw SWEAT, the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Lynn Nottage, on Broadway. I had no idea what it was about but I’d heard everything from “weird” to “intense.” It was no at all what I was expecting. It was about a group of friends in the factor town of Reading, PA and how they’re adversely affected by NAFTA. Could it be more timely? I think not. Anyways, here’s my brain dump on it:

This piece reminded me a lot of Clyborne Park, probably because of the timeline of the plot. Clyborne Park took place in two different decades and although Sweat switched between past and present, both pieces used time jumps to show how things have declined in their respective neighborhoods.

Sweat was the perfect representation of racism in America, especially after there are layoffs and people who look like immigrants are hired because said-immigrants are desperate for higher paying jobs. The promotion of one of the African American member of the primary group of friends also brings out her friend’s true colors (“they get tax breaks because she’s a minority”).

The ensemble cast was ace, with not a weak link onstage from where I was sitting, and these characters go for a ride on a very emotional rollercoaster. Shitty acting would’ve made this unwatchable.

There’s excellent writing onstage at Studio 54 to bring to life something that’s very current. It’s over two hours, but it flies. It’s playing through June 4th.

Heisenberg @ MTC

Last Friday night I went to see Heisenberg at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel Friedman Theatre starring Mary Louise Parker and Denis Arndt. I’ve only seen Parker onstage once, years ago in The Snow Geese. She’s brilliant. I think we all know that.

Heisenberg was about two people in London who meet at random when Georgie (Parker) thinks that Alex (Arndt) is someone she knows and rushes him from behind. Despite the fact that Alex wants to be left alone, Georgie keeps talking to him about nothing in particular. She discovers there is 30-something years between them. The play takes place across various locations over a few weeks. They develop something like a relationship and it feels kind of awkward.

I was kind of confused about what I was watching. I don’t know what the playwright was trying to say. That said, I enjoyed both Parker and Arndt immensely and the pointless, sometimes funny banter in the script.

If you have any idea what this show means, please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know. 

Theatre Date With Myself, Part Two

On Tuesday night I took myself to see Ivan van Hove’s revival of The Crucible (again via TDF). I had never seen The Crucible onstage and I was super excited. Seeing Ciaran Hinds (Gov. Danforth) and Tavi Gevinson (Mary Warren) was just the icing on the cake. I remembered the basic plot – McCarthism masquerading as the Salem Witch Trials – but once the action started, all of the dialogue started flooding back into my memory.

The production is flawless. A very minimal set. Beautiful lighting. It was truly mind blowing how 70+ people were accused of witch craft by five girls who were faking it and they turn Salem upside down. 

Gevinson was excellent – a total 180* from This Is Our Youth. Sophie Okonedo (Elizabeth Proctor) and Ben Whishaw (John Proctor) had great chemistry together. Jim Norton (Giles Corey) was subtly funny and heart breaking as always. It was really a treat to see Jim Norton and Ciaran Hinds onstage together again – I was such a big fan of The Seafarer in 2008. I could list the rest of the cast because they were all excellent, but I won’t. You can check them out here if you’re interested. 

Like I said, I have nothing to compare this production to but this three hour production never dragged and it didn’t feel long for one minute. If you have three hours to kill, get thee to the Walter Kerr. 

Rifts and Roses Follow Press Agent’s Abrupt Exit from Broadway’s Finding Neverland

I’ve been told before (by people who’ve worked for these folks) that Harvey Weinstein is a crazy person (like so many big fish in the land of Broadway).

Rick Miramontez is a classy dude though. I’ve met him on several occasions and he’s never been anything but the nicest. Calm, too!  

I’ve heard that Finding Neverland is like Big Fish was: It has the potential to be awesome, but it just falls flat. We shall see!

Rifts and Roses Follow Press Agent’s Abrupt Exit from Broadway’s Finding Neverland