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Theater Review: ‘Doll’s House, Part Two’ A Wonderful Evening Of Theater On Sherman’s Stage



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SHERMAN — Henrik Johan Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House left decades of audiences wondering whatever happened to Nora, the renegade woman who left her husband and children to find herself.

Nora has returned to tell her story on stage at The Sherman Playhouse, where Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2 is in performances.

The erstwhile wife and mother Nora (played by Alicia Dempster) has returned to the home she so abruptly abandoned to settle some newly discovered complications that could disrupt all she has earned in terms of money, success, and fulfillment. She has found what she loves and it is definitely not marriage, with its incumbent domesticity of the time. She is a firebrand.

Upon her return, Nora’s first encounter is with Anne Marie, an aged domestic/nanny (Meg Jones). Anne Marie has known Nora since she was a child. She and Nora kept in touch, but it was Anne Marie who raised Nora’s children.

In her brittle bones, Anne Marie cares about Nora, yet finds the complexities of her choices confusing and frustrating.

Nora’s former husband Torvald (Joe Harding) returns home early from work and is stunned to find Nora in his house. He is still wounded by the breakup, and his fragility is palpable.

Torvald is befuddled and knows not what to make of any of these events, particularly the request that Nora has made to him.

The daughter Nora cast off 15 years earlier makes an appearance. Emmy (Desirae Kelley) is now a lovely young woman who is engaged to marry. She is sassy and resourceful. Emmy knows when she is being played and brilliantly turns the tables.

Does Nora leave again, or do the two reconcile in this new place that Nora has introduced? The audience cannott help but try to predict the outcome.

A Doll’s House, Part 2 gives off a contemporary vibe in its presentation of the challenges and conflicts Nora tangled with during her marriage to Torvald. Her choice to leave was bold and brave, yet what about her children? Was she just an awful mother?

Nora does not appear conflicted at all; she is quite satisfied with the way her life has turned out and renders apologies to no one. She has no regrets; in fact, she is quite proud.

The challenging role of Nora is excellently played by Alicia Dempster. She is so deeply entrenched in this character, it seems the part could have been written for her. Nora is magically made likable and approachable through the well-written script and Dempster’s skilled portrayal.

The doddering Anne Marie is adorably played by Meg Jones. Her physicality along with her exquisite delivery of her lines is wonderful to watch.

As Torvald, Joe Harding is solid. His character’s pain and confusion over what has happened to his life is vivid.

The clever Emmy is charmingly rendered by Desirae Kelley. Far from innocent, Kelley’s Emmy is wily, as though she has been anticipating this confrontation with her mother since the day Nora left.

The simple set is the perfect backdrop for the proficient directing by Michael Schaner.

The subject matter of A Doll’s House, Part 2 is as relevant to the state of marriage today as it was in the Nineteenth Century, which makes this production quite pertinent. The cast makes it fascinating.

This update on Nora and her family is a wonderful evening of theater.

Performances continue weekends through October 9, on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

For the safety of their audience and performers, The Sherman Players continue to follow local and national theater protocols regarding COVID-19. Audience members are required to provide proof of vaccination and wear masks during performances. Questions can be directed to information@shermanplayers.org.

Visit shermanplayers.org for ticket details, reservations, and additional information. The Playhouse is at 5 Route 39 North in Sherman.

Torvald (Joe Harding) and Nora (Alicia Dempster) have a quiet moment to reflect in a scene from A Doll’s House, Part 2. Lucas Hnath’s play, on stage now at The Sherman Playhouse, offers closure for characters created more than 130 years ago by Henrik Johan Ibsen. —Trish Haldin Photography
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