Monday, 20 June 2022

REVIEW: A Dolls House, Part 2 at The Donmar Warehouse

After walking out on her husband 15 years ago, Nora (Noma Dumezweni) is back to face her Ex-Husband Torvald (BrĂ­an F. O'Byrne). Except there’s one problem, Despite thinking she was no longer married and conducting herself outside the marriage, Torvald never filed for divorce.

The show is very central to Nora’s attempt to persuade Torvald to file for divorce. Nora’s feminist writing has landed her in trouble with a lot of people, one, in particular, threatening to expose the pseudonym she writes under, in turn exposing the fact she’s not acted within the marriage. 

The show itself is pretty much conversations between four people, Nora, Torvald, Nora’s daughter Emmy (Patricia Allison) and the maid Anne Marie (June Watson). The conversations just seem to coast along, staying at a moderate pace throughout. Though when Anne Marie comes into the conversation, she brings humour and charm to her character. 

With what’s an empty stage bar a few chairs and a table, there’s the added pressure if you like for the conversations to capture you. There’s no other focal point other than what’s happening in front of you, intention or not set designer Rae Smith does expertly that, a massive house at the start of the show takes all our focus, then once the show starts and the house is lifted the attention goes to the characters. 

The quartet of actors each bring something to the show, Dumezweni always takes the focus as she controls the stage around her. From subtle interactions to a compelling performance, she owns the role throughout. 

O'Brien brings a vulnerability to Torvald, a man broken from Nora’s departure all those years ago, O'Byrne captures the defeatist side of Torvald that despite him not keeping his word we oddly sympathise with his reason why. 

Nora’s daughter Emmy (Allison) is a breath of fresh air, a gentle tempo boost when she comes in, she’s rendered her mother surplus to her requirements and makes it known, that she’s had a life without her mother since she left and shows with a mature performance that brings a level of excitement to it in the limited scenes she’s in. Finally and probably the standout, Anne Marie the maid. Watson brings a hilarity but heartfelt performance to the maid. A woman who's given up her life to raising other children makes it known and is shown through her resentment of Nora’s arrival and request to help with the divorce. 

Director James McDonald has managed to pull together a piece with limited resources it seems. It has its moments and it’s got a real sense of female empowerment to it. Nora is a woman living in the future, matched with her ideologies whilst many live in the past. But it just feels stagnant, with potential for a real fire, in the end, it’s just an underwhelming evening and more a flame, than fire. 

Review by George Butler

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Stalls, C14 | Price of Ticket: £55.00
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