Above: Jeanine Kane as Nora and Steve Kidd as Torvald. Photos by Peter Goldberg.
By Noelle Salisbury
Fifteen years ago, a door slammed. On the outside stood Nora, the housewife-turned-rebellious-feminist; on the inside, her former husband, Torvald, and their three children. In Lucas Hnath’s Tony Award-nominated play, “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” Nora walks through that door once again, 15 years later, now in need of her estranged husband’s help. As The Gamm Theatre’s 35th season kickoff, “A Doll’s House, Part 2” is a solid, character-focused piece. Fred Sullivan, Jr., who directed Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” at The Gamm in 2011, returns, along with Jeanine Kane and Steve Kidd, reprising their roles as Nora and Torvald.
Kane, who spends the entirety of the 90-minute show (without intermission) on stage, performs this marathon role with a confident attack. Her animated speech drove the show by taking preaching to a new level. Often the recipient of Nora’s lectures is Anne Marie, the kindly nursemaid, played by Debra Wise. Wise quickly became an audience favorite with her sharp comedic timing and superior physical comedy skills. Wise, along with Alison Russo’s Emmy, the daughter of Nora and Torvald, were shining lights on stage who brought an element of levity to this drama. Although not a comedic role, Steve Kidd handled the straight-laced Torvald with a sense of humanity.
In their various calls to action, each character grabbed the audience’s attention by breaking the fourth wall, making direct eye contact and walking up into the aisles of the house. These rendezvous allowed the characters to argue their perspectives in a literally elevated position. This staging makes the most salient point of every character’s case stand out.
The minimalist set relies on simple, neutral tones, with a few scant props. Although this enhanced the actors’ performances, it left something to be desired in terms of how they interacted with their surroundings. At times, it served as more of a backdrop than a three dimensional extension of the setting. However, this did not take away from the overall quality of the show.
The costumes amplified the stark differences between the independent Nora and her abandoned family. The bright crimson of Nora’s dress immediately makes her stand out against her plain surroundings, creating an effective visual representation of her taboo views.
Viewers of “A Doll’s House, Part 2” can expect a few laughs, but generally a night of introspection. Hnath’s sequel touches on topics such as gender, marriage, and abandonment in an intriguing production driven by the talented cast. The play runs through Oct. 6, at The Gamm Theatre (1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick). Tickets are $45, $55, and $65. Call 401-723-4266 or order online at gammtheatre.org.
Reviewer Noelle Salisbury is a senior at East Greenwich High School.