A Doll’s House, Part 2 playwright, Lucas Hnath. Photo courtesy Belfry Theatre

Belfry continues Ibsen tale with updated production

A Doll’s House, Part 2 runs Sept. 16-Oct. 14 at the Belfry Theatre

Timothy Collins

Monday Magazine contributor

The Belfry Theatre is poised to bring an iconic character back to its Mainstage when A Doll’s house, Part 2 opens to Victoria audiences on Sept. 16.

It’s the continuation of Nora Helmer’s story; a story first brought to life in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. That play opened in December 1879 and reflected the issues of a married woman who, at the time, lacked any reasonable opportunities for self-fulfillment in a male-dominated world.

A Dolls House ended with Nora leaving her keys and wedding ring behind and walking out of the house, slamming the door behind her.

In that story, the question of whether Nora ever comes back is left to the audience to ponder.

With A Doll’s House, Part 2, American playwright Lucas Hnath continues the tale, beginning with a knock on the door.

Nora has returned some 15 years later with an urgent request that her husband, Torvald, sign the legal papers that will finalize their divorce. She is now a successful feminist novelist and her return stirs recriminations and a re-evaluation of the controversy that arose as a result of her departure.

The play has been hailed as a brilliant contemporary classic that manages to continue Nora’s story with a decidedly modern perspective. It’s been described as “smart, funny and utterly engrossing” and has managed to revisit the questions of equality and self worth that Ibsen raised more than a century ago.

The play has received nominations for the 2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards: Outstanding New Broadway Play, Outstanding Actress in a Play and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play.

As a result of its Broadway run, the play received eight 2017 Tony Award nominations: Best Play, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Chris Cooper), Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play, Best Direction of a Play and Best Costume Design of a Play.

Michael Shamata, artistic director for the Belfry and director of the local production, described it as being entirely within the scope of what the local company has always tried to achieve.

“For the past 35 years, the Belfry Theatre and its audiences have been on a journey through the best of contemporary theatre,” he said.

“The theatre has a crucial role in the cultural ecology of our region. We recognize our responsibility as an artistic leader within Victoria, nurturing and supporting many of the artists and theatre companies within our community.”

Shamata believes this latest offering is a perfect response to that responsibility.

“It is simply stunning. The intellectual excitement is palpable, as arguments around gender, marriage and family are turned upside down and inside out.”

A Doll’s House, Part 2 opens at the Belfry on Sept. 16 and runs to Oct. 14.

It features Martha Burns as Nora, Benedict Campbell as Torvald, Barbara Gordon as Ann Marie and Alice Snaden as Emmy.

For tickets or other information, visit belfry.bc.ca.

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