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A Doll's House: Part 2 - Red Ryder Productions/The Blue Room

Reviewed by Rachel Doulton


In 1879 Nora Helma left. She closed the door on her life as a mother and a wife and expectation. Set fifteen years later, A Doll's House Pt.2 speculates what happens if Nora comes back. Written by New York playwright, Lucas Hnath, the play is structured by each scene exploring a character's relationship with Nora and the struggle to reconcile with the aftermath of her departure.

The script did its best to delve into the ramifications felt when a woman chooses to leave her family, however, it felt as though it was reinforcing the villanising of women seeking self-actualisation rather than challenging it. Nora comes across as sanctimonious with numerous condescending and dismissive monologues to the two most important women in her life, the woman that raised her, Anne Marie, and her daughter Emmy; which felt very reminiscent of the insular bubble of middle-class white feminism.

Alison Van Reeken is a master in this role and brings much-needed emotive nuance to an otherwise frustrating written interpretation of Nora. Maitland Schnars gives a surprisingly simple and sympathetic take on Torvald and both Schnars and Van Reeken are brilliantly contrasted in their duelling dialogue. Julia Moody as Anne Marie brings a warmth that envelopes the whole theatre and a much-needed reality check for Nora's recklessness that is not a luxury afforded to those across the class divide. ‘Ana Ika's Emmy expertly balanced exuberant youthful optimism of the future with simmering resentment towards the past that was compelling in its delivery.

Lighting by Karen Cook supported the conflict on stage by transitioning from warm to cool washes to reflect the conflict on stage in a way that was simple yet effective. The production design felt incohesive; stuck between matching the modern dialogue of the script and the time period of the original play. The lack of commitment to one or the other left the context unsupported and hindered the suspension of belief that the cast worked so hard on creating.

The Red Ryder team delivered an engaging sequel to the Ibsen classic and more than made up for the shortfalls in the script. It was an absolute pleasure to see some of Perth's best tread the boards at The Blue Room Theatre.

Maitland Schaars (Torvald) - Alison van Reeken (Nora). Image Credit: Stewart Thorpe Photography

Reviewer Note: Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.


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