SUMMIT, NJ – You wouldn’t think a follow-up to Henrik Ibsen’s play about Nora Helmer in 19th century Norway would be especially relevant today.
But the smart, funny sequel by Lucas Hnath has much to say about marriage, the cost of independence, abandoning one’s family and other issues that ring true. When Nora insists that marriage won’t exist in 20 or 30 years, we see how wrong she is about the durability of institutions, the male/female relationship and more.
Looking at Nora’s life after slamming the door 15 years earlier, we see the playwright has taken some liberties. It’s unlikely Nora would have become a famous author, given the prejudices and limited roles for women at the time. Then we don’t really know the impact on her children, especially her two older sons, who never appear. Although Nora insists she had to leave to find herself, her selfishness still comes through, whether manipulating within her marriage or running away from it.
The production in Summit has a strong cast, with Karen Thornton as the strident Nora, David Romankow as her deserted, resentful husband, Torvald; Gloria Lamoureux as the often frustrated maid, Anne Marie and Alicia Hayes as Nora’s outspoken daughter Emmy.
Although set in the1890s period with costumes to match, the dialogue is contemporary. Linda Spirko’s wine colored taffeta ensemble for Nora, Roy Pancerov’s subdued set design and astute direction by Gordon Wiener, keep this 90-minte production humming along.
There’s plenty to ponder in this imaginative approach to a scenario that was considered shocking in its day. Performances continue at The Summit Playhouse, located at 10 New England Avenue in Summit, through Nov. 16. For tickets, call 908-973-2192 or visit TheSummitPlayhouse.org.