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.

I’d heard that The Humans, written by Stephen Karam and currently at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre off-Broadway, was fantastic and I knew it was transferring. Once Kristen reminded me that it wasn’t closing until January 3rd, I went to see last Wednesday’s matinee in a general rush ticket ($27) as the student rush was $50 (wtf?). The difference between the two seats was the student rush ticket was unobstructed while the general rush ticket was in the last row of the orchestra and thus the mezzanine overhang made it a little difficult to see the top floor of the set.

This play reminded me a bit of the movie Pieces of April as in a “Thanksgiving Gone Wrong” plot. Brigid (Sarah Steele) just moved in with her boyfriend Richard (Ariian Moayed) and Sarah’s family is coming to spend Thanksgiving with them in their unfurnished, barely-moved-into apartment. There were the usual witty lines of dialogue that inspired lots of laughter from the audience and it got serious and depressing in the last 1/3 of the script. Truths are revealed and Thanksgiving dinner is ended early.

Moayed mentions in the early part of the play that there’s a comic which takes place from the perspective of monsters and how all of their horror stories have humans as their monsters. Brigid’s mom (Jayne Houdyshell) and her sister Aimee (Cassie Beck) can hardly believe that would ever be the case as humans are basically not capable of such horror-inducing acts. By the end of the play, we know this isn’t true.

It felt like a horror/thriller movie towards the end when a couple of random items are knocked over and a door closed by itself. I’m not sure what Karam’s intentions were by adding those subtleties to the script. Their grandmother, “Momo” (Lauren Klein), is not well and basically catatonic throughout the entire play. I’d like to think the supernatural element of the script had something to do with her character, but honestly, I’m really not sure. 

Overall I really enjoyed it. I don’t see this being very popular on Broadway, but it’ll be good exposure for Sarah Steele and Reed Birney (who played her father). The cast executed the layered script as best they could; there were no weak links. With no big names and being a not altogether feel-good script, I’m interested to see what this does when it transfers. 

Parting is such sweet sorrow. 

On Thursday night the new revival of Romeo and Juliet opened and last week I had the opportunity to see it. I was incredibly excited because I love Shakespeare and also because I’d never seen a professional production of R&J. Also: Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad were starring in it. With Chuck Cooper and Jayne Houdyshell to boot. I was just as excited for the cast as I was for the iambic pentameter.

As per usual with Shakespeare, the set (by Jesse Poleshuck) was sparse and the lighting (by David Weiner) was interesting. The costumes (by Fabio Toblini) were more Baz Luhrman-esque than Elizabethan.

I’d heard complaints about the chemistry between Bloom and Rashad but I didn’t have any problem – in fact I liked them both a lot. I also adored Chuck Cooper as Lord Capulet as he was absolutely frightening. Justin Guarini gave a surprisingly convincing performance as Paris too. (As it turns out, he has more than one facial expression contrary to his performance in American Idiot.) And Houdyshell as the Nurse? Maybe the best in the cast. Editors NoteChristian Camargo’s Mercutio was gripping and perfect too. You can definitely see why Juilliard wanted him. 

 I’m not sure what prompted this revival, as Broadway is surely inundated with Shakespeare this season, but I’d say its definitely worth a viewing if you’re a fan of the play or any of it’s cast members.

Disclaimer: Tickets were gratis courtesy of SC. 

All The Way Back in 2007…

When I was studying abroad during the summer in 2007, I saw a play before I came home called “In Celebration” starring Orlando Bloom. I’d never really been an Orlando Bloom fan in particular, but I thought, how many more times will I have the chance to see Orlando Bloom on stage? Probably not many. 

And I was right.. not many have presented themselves. Until now… this fall a new and re-imagined revival of Shakespeare’s classic, Romeo and Juliet will be playing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.  Orlando Bloom will (obviously) be playing Romeo alongside Condola Rashad (who killed it in last season’s The Trip to Bountiful) as Juliet. The fantastic Chuck Cooper and Jayne Houdyshell are also apart of the stellar cast. 

I am so, so excited for this revival. For one I’ve never seen a professional production of R&J, and with this cast…. WOW! I’ll be seeing it sometime in September and I wanted to give one of you guys a chance to see it too. In the next week or so I’ll be putting together a post to be tweeted/reblogged/etc!

Until then, I leave with you this picture of the charismatic Orlando Bloom from back in 2007:

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