A Dolls House, Part 2 reviews – Donmar Warehouse 2022 ★★★★

Reviews are in for A Dolls House Part 2 at the Donmar Warehouse in London.

Directed by James Macdonald, with a cast led by double Olivier Award-winner Noma DumezweniLucas Hnath audaciously picks up where Ibsen’s revolutionary masterpiece left off. The cast also features Patricia Allison, Brian F. O’Byrne and June Watson.

Fifteen years after Nora Helmer slammed the door on her stifling marriage, she’s back with an urgent request. But first she must face the family she left behind.

The Telegraph said it was “Essential viewing” and that “Noma Dumezweni is magnificent”. Time Out found the production “razor-sharp” and “frequently hilarious” whilst the Independent thought it was more a “think piece than a drama”. Book tickets to A Dolls house, Part 2.

A Dolls House, Part 2 runs until 6 August 2022 at Donmar Warehouse, London.

Read a round-up of reviews for A Dolls House, Part 2 at the Donmar Warehouse from UK theatre critics.

Average Critics Rating

The Telegraph

"How on earth do you follow up Ibsen’s masterpiece? Exactly like this"

"Lucas Hnath's audacious sequel to the pioneering 1879 drama, at the Donmar Warehouse, is nothing less than essential viewing"

"Noma Dumezweni is magnificent as the shifty revenant, arriving in a smart velvety period dress as if wholly fixed on the purpose at hand, but forced on the back foot as the household she abandoned starts to turn the tables."

"Each character has their voice, and that’s strikingly the case with the maligned Torvald, whom Brian F O’Byrne makes patriarchally stiff yet seething with emotion: icy, indignant, ferocious, and also, crucially, frail, as much a humble human casualty as a combatant in the battle of the sexes and the fracturing war against social conditioning and systemic oppression. Essential viewing."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Times

"Sympathies shift in this dark thought experiment"

"Nora herself doesn’t emerge as an entirely likeable figure. Having built a new life for herself, she returns to the family hearth as a successful writer of books championing female independence. We admire her grit, but Noma Dumezweni — whose voice is a little lacking in light and shade — gives us a woman who is too pleased with herself. When she engages in a discussion with her old nanny, Anne Marie — who had been left with the task of raising Nora’s three young children — there is no mistaking the hint of condescension."

"It is one of the merits of the script that our sympathies shift back and forth in a series of conversations between Nora and those she left behind."

Clive Davis, The Times
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"A funny, sharp metasequel to Ibsen’s classic play"

"If ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ has an obvious weakness it’s that Hnath’s determination to not appear to revise Ibsen’s story leads to some slightly weird plot beats. I very much struggled to work out what Nora’s plan was supposed to be at the end. But this isn’t actually a story about what happened after Nora walked out, because we know that: Nora went on to become a legend, one of the most iconic creations in literature. Hnath’s play is a razor-sharp, frequently hilarious interrogation of that legend."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Independent

"A bit of Ibsen fanfic that’s more of a think piece than a drama"

"Is this meta-fiction? Or Ibsen fanfic? Either way, it’s a pretty niche kink for a hot summer’s night. Hnath’s play, more of a think piece than a drama, was a hit on Broadway in 2017 and won Laurie Metcalf a Tony. For the UK premiere, directed by James Macdonald, Rae Smith has put a house on stage; when the play begins, the roof raises up. People gasp. But if we thought we were about to see the lid lifted on something, the interior is sparser."

"As the play ends, Nora tries to articulate how deeply male voices and expectations have been embedded into her psyche. It’s all the chewier given that she’s written by two men – Hnath and Ibsen. The return of that legendary door slam at the end is a startling full stop. Feminism in action, or the punctuation of the patriarchy?"

Jessie Thompson, The Independent
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The Stage

"Genuinely thought-provoking"

"The stage-stealer is Dumezweni, whose presence is mesmerising and whose voice has an impact all on its own – deep, rich and powerful. "

"This is an invigorating production of a play that asks many-faceted questions about love, loneliness and freedom. Definitely a doll’s house that’s worth stepping into."

Farah Najib, The Stage
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The Guardian

"Noma Dumezweni is a compelling lead in Lucas Hnath’s sequel, which is well drawn but a little too tightly controlled"

"There is something a little too controlled about Hnath’s play, as if the characters are being held up for careful study but never quite let off their leash. It’s only in the closing scenes that things begin to feel freer and more reachable. Nora talks with a low, humming intensity about how long it took to find her voice and, in a moment of perfect vulnerability, she is completely herself – and a little bit of all of us."

Miriam Gillinson, The Guardian
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The Sunday Times

"A radical feminist wrestling match"

"Patricia Allison impresses as Emmy, but she and Dumezweni are given little ammunition to make their big scene plausible. The play feels more like a political project, an examination of marriage and women’s rights, than a tale of love and loss. Dumezweni has magnetic presence. She, like the whole show, is perfectly watchable. But I did not for a moment believe she was Ibsen’s Nora. It might have been better to leave that slammed door shut."

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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The Observer

"Lucas Hnath’s sequel to the Ibsen classic is intriguing rather than revelator"

"This Doll’s House is a hybrid: it uses 21st-century idiom – “I’m pissed off at you” – while taking off from the conditions of Ibsen’s lifetime, with maids and clerks and very clear guidelines for how to behave as a respectable married female."

"This is an intriguing, not a transporting play. Patricia Allison is silvery and sharp as Nora’s daughter – independent from her mother but strikingly conventional; June Watson is magnificent as the beaky housekeeper. James Macdonald’s finely focused production pushes home – on the eyes as well as the ears – every twist of the debate. Like spectators at a boxing ring, the audience sit around the action. "

Susannah Clapp, The Observer
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📷 Main photo: Noma Dumezweni as Norma Helmer, returning after 15 years, with Brían F O’Byrne as the deserted Torvald

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