“A Doll’s House” has been given a brilliant new  breath of life by playwright Amy Herzog. Her new version of the Henrik Ibsen classic—currently playing at the Hudson Theatre at 141 W. 44th Street—has become one of the most powerful, captivating dramas you will see on Broadway.

The audience is introduced to the character of Nora, played with pure splendor by Jessica Chastain. Chastain is absolutely riveting as Nora, a woman who is married to Torvald and with whom she has children. Nora has always been taken for granted by Torvald and treated like a child. Hers is a life of knowing she is Torvald’s subordinate and making the best of that situation. Hers is the life of a woman who has no identity except that of wife and mother—and a woman needs more than that. 

Chastain plays Nora with honesty and dignity. As you watch her character evolve, you have to be captivated by all that she has done in the name of love and family, and for Torvald. Chastain gives Nora multiple levels and helps you to discover who this timid woman could be. Arian Moayed is relentless as Torvald, a chauvinist who thinks women are inferior and need to be controlled, protected, and guided like children.

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Nora has a secret that she has kept from Torvald, and she will do anything to ensure that the secret is not discovered; however, a situation arises in which she has no control. “A Doll’s House” is delightfully written and has a lot of humor throughout, although it is also quite degrading to women. 

The female characters in this play also include Kristine, Nora’s longtime and good friend—someone who seems to view her in a love/hate sort of manner. I love how the production beautifully used non-traditional casting, with African American Jesmille Darbouze in the role and delivering a poignant performance. Non-traditional casting was also used for the character of Nils Krogstad, stunningly played by Okieriete Onaodowan. Michael Patrick Thornton plays Dr. Rank, a friend of Torvald, who has his own health issues and his own secret. Jessica Chastain, who plays Anne-Marie, the nanny to Nora’s children, completes the tremendously talented cast.

This play will grab your attention, move you, and make you want to cheer. The actors play their roles to perfection, and their timing is exact. 

I truly loved the unique direction of Jamie Lloyd. 

This play has so many engaging factors to it: There is not much of a set, and the actors are seated in chairs. There are moments when conversations happen, but not with characters facing each other; instead, they sit in chairs back-to-back and their shadows are completely motionless. I loved the intensity that this type of staging gave to every poignant scene.

“A Doll’s House” is not child’s play. It is a devastatingly important drama that all need to experience and appreciate.

The spaces to focus on the brilliant words and the interaction between scenes are assisted by the sparse technical aspects of this production. Scenic and costume design are the work of Soutra Gilmour, Enver Chakartash is a costume co-designer, lighting design is by Jon Clark, sound design is by Ben & Max Ringham, music from Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, and choreography by Jennifer Rias. For more info, visit www.adollshousebroadway.com.

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