A reviews round-up for A Doll’s House at the Hudson Theatre in New York starring Jessica Chastain
The West End’s loss is definitely Broadway’s gain with Jamie Lloyd’s new production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, starring Oscar winner Jessica Chastain.
The production was originally meant to open in the West End, but Covid put paid to that, and now Jamie Lloyd as taken his Jessica Chastain helmed interpretation to New York’s Hudson Theatre, for a limited run.
This production uses a new adaptation of Ibsen’s classic by playwright Amy Herzog (4000 Miles).
The full cast includes Jessica Chastain as Nora Helmer, Arian Moayed as Torvald Helmer, Jesmille Darbouze as Kristine Linde, Tasha Lawrence as Anne-Marie, Michael Patrick Thornton as Dr. Rank, and Okieriete Onaodowan as Nils Krogstad.
Alongside director Jamie Lloyd in the creative team are Choreography by Jennifer Rias, design by Soutra Gilmour, costumes by Soutra Gilmour and Enver Chakartash, lighting by Jon Clark, sound by Ben and Max Ringham, and original music by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto.
A Doll’s House is playing at the Hudson Theatre in New York until 10 June 2023.
"Jessica Chastain captivates in minimalist revival"
"The Oscar winner makes for an exceptional Nora in a visually muted yet emotionally effective remount of Ibsen’s classic drama"
"In Jamie Lloyd’s minimalist reimagining of A Doll’s House lies a new iteration of the seminal classic."
"In some ways, it feels disappointing to lose the visual fullness of Ibsen’s world... But in this muted revival, adapted by Amy Herzog, the modernization emphasizes the legitimacy of Nora’s life and what she can control. Nora is not just a mother, or just a wife. Under Lloyd’s direction, Chastain emphasizes the responsibility and reverence of these identities that Nora firmly grasps, the real grief that swallows her when she fears she has corrupted it all."
"Chastain is captivating as Nora, providing a robust understanding of Nora’s inner life beyond the cruelty she suffers. Chastain fully understands the various pieces that make up Nora..."
"Some aspects of the modernization misfire. Lloyd’s version feel slackened in its finale"
"Race is a current in Lloyd’s revival, with Krogstad and Kristine played by people of color."
"Jessica Chastain shines in this bold Broadway take on Ibsen"
"Nothing in the Oscar-winner’s incisive and immediate performance registers as a movie star having a stab at Broadway"
"Jessica Chastain commands the stage in this pared-down yet amped-up revival of Henrik Ibsen’s proto-feminist work, now on Broadway with audacious Brit Jamie Lloyd directing. He is building a solid reputation for his minimalist stagings of plays that put starry names to the fore – as the audience take their seats, the dazzling Oscar-winner, clad in sophisticated black, sits in a chair that spins on a turntable. A lovely porcelain doll on display? A disenchanted woman looking for confidants? Certainly, a bit of both is implied."
"Overall, this isn’t a Doll’s House your grandmother would have recognised, but that’s all for the good: what a joy to see Ibsen’s masterpiece receive such an accomplished, enlightening treatment."
"Jessica Chastain stars in bloodless adaptation"
"Jessica Chastain valiantly muddles through a bloodless production"
"Jamie Lloyd’s minimalist production of A Doll’s House is blunt and deadpan. It emphasises distilled, detached interaction and Jessica Chastain is left adrift in a spartan production."
"Herzog’s writing feels as shaved to the bone as the direction – brutal and awkward at times. Her Torvald (Moayed at his creepiest) is irritatingly obnoxious from the jump, and when he calls Nora “baby”, we cringe. Herzog’s Nora is more an active participant in her own mistakes than she is in Ibsen’s original."
"Worse, the self-serious, tone-deaf direction dials up the sense of ridiculousness."
"Jessica Chastain Plots an Escape From ‘A Doll’s House’"
"Jamie Lloyd’s compelling, surgically precise revival of Ibsen’s 1879 drama throbs like an episode of “CSI: Norway.”"
"Many plays end with a breathtaking coup, but Jamie Lloyd’s incisive Broadway revival of “A Doll’s House,” which opened on Thursday at the Hudson Theater, also begins with one. After all, it’s not every day you find Jessica Chastain rotating on a turntable like an angry bird in a giant cuckoo clock."
"That we see these options so starkly is because everything else is pared away. Herzog’s dialogue, pruning the social floweriness and conversational whorls of Ibsen’s naturalism, gets right to the point of every line, leaving the text raw and red, as if exfoliated."
"But in cutting and modernizing the language, Herzog does not make the mistake of trashing the social conventions that create the drama in the first place."
"Chastain puts this all across beautifully."
"Exhilarating as the approach is in vindicating Nora, this modern take on “A Doll’s House” does hit a wall with Krogstad and, crucially, Torvald."
"Jessica Chastain Shines in a Broadway Staging That Brings Sparkling Clarity to a Classic"
"There are no props in director Jamie Lloyd’s version of Henrik Ibsen’s drama “A Doll’s House” — no sets, no costumes (just plain contemporary clothing in dark blue), not even a curtain."
"In this revival, what’s left is a beautiful, spacious clarity about what this oft-produced play is about, who these characters are, what they mean to one another and how they may (or may not) impact audiences of today. There is nothing but dialogue pared down by playwright Amy Herzog (the rare woman interpreting “A Doll’s House,” at least on Broadway) and played with great skill by most of the actors in the production."
"It is a thing of beauty, this play, and a relief to be spared the spectacle in favor of a kind of pure view of what Ibsen meant to convey. Chastain’s performance is restrained, and yet you can witness each unique moment register on her face (there are a lot of silent tears and, because there are no props, no handkerchiefs to soak them up with!). And Moayed as Torvald is convincing as a man who sounds like a loving, devoted husband but is, underneath, selfish, shallow, ungrateful and narcissistic."
"Jessica Chastain Sits Through Ibsen"
"The actress stars in director Jamie Lloyd’s bare and bloodless Broadway production of the feminist classic, as adapted by playwright Amy Herzog"
"It was probably inevitable. Zombies, long a perversely beloved staple of pop culture, have come at last for Broadway. No, a chorus of flesh-eaters is not cavorting across the stage in a musical adaptation of “The Walking Dead.” Yet. I refer to the moribund new revival of Ibsen’s landmark drama “A Doll’s House,” starring Jessica Chastain and a chair."
"... this production turns the play’s characters into stiff simulacra of living, breathing people. They do not feast on live humans, but they stalk the stage with all the animation of corpses raised from the dead who find it strange to be ambulatory."
"Jessica Chastain works hard to bring a minimalist re-up to life"
"The Oscar winner takes on a bare-bones modernization of Henrik Ibsen's classic play, to mixed results."
"The version that bows tonight at New York's Hudson Theater features an Oscar-winning movie star, Jessica Chastain... And it is very much built to showcase her"
"Whether the work's central tenet — the radical idea that women are people too, deserving of life and liberty — remains the necessary subject of a major Broadway production in 2023 is a trickier thing."
"Whether there's still fresh air to be found up there is a question this Doll, beyond its strenuously modern dress, mostly punts: The House has been remodeled, but the foundation rests."
"Jessica Chastain Blazes in Intensely Intimate Take on Ibsen Classic"
"Arian Moayed also stars in Amy Herzog’s century-straddling adaptation, given an audaciously minimalist Broadway production by Jamie Lloyd."
"Mounted with daring austerity even by the usual pared-down standards of director Jamie Lloyd, the production finds scorching intensity in stillness."
"The minimalism might look more like a rigorous acting exercise than a top-dollar Broadway revival, but peeling away the accoutrements to dig into the emotional and psychological subtleties of the text is Lloyd’s signature."
"[Herzog] deftly condenses Ibsen’s traditional three acts into an uninterrupted two hours that heighten the original playwright’s intention to show the ways in which a patriarchal society stymies women’s personhood."
"When she steps out of the Helmer home and quite literally into the 21st century in this boldly conceived, commandingly acted production, it’s both shattering and exhilarating."
"Jessica Chastain Finds A Home In Stark, Minimalist Revival"
"At more than a few points during Jamie Lloyd’s hypnotic Broadway revival of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, you could swear that stars Jessica Chastain and Succession‘s Arian Moayed are confiding in you, whispering their secrets to no one else. This stark, sometimes chilly production is an eavesdropper’s paradise, so intimate and conversational that all but the most guarded among us will be susceptible to its frequent enticements."
"Much of the credit for this enticement belongs to playwright Amy Herzog, whose adaptation of the groundbreaking 1879 marriage story gives just enough of a contemporary spin – our protagonist Nora delights at the prospect of acquiring “tons of money” – without sacrificing the emotional heft or power of more traditionally rendered translations."
"A strong Jessica Chastain is trapped"
"Despite an absorbing performance from the “Eyes of Tammy Faye” actress, British director Jamie Lloyd’s staging is as sterile as an operating room.
If only the actors donned colorful blue medical scrubs."
"During that final speech, Chastain is at her most alive and thrilling.
"Actually, her Nora is a pleasure to watch throughout for her aura alone, which has come a long way from her “Heiress” days. She’s held back in more ways than one by Lloyd’s direction. Still, there is a spark of intrigue and playfulness to whatever move she makes, and as Nora’s burdensome debt comes to light, Chastain approaches it with quiet, modern anxiety. She’s also gripping when opposite the excellent Michael Patrick Thornton as Dr. Rank, Nora’s flirty confidant."
"Jessica Chastain’s Close Listening in 'A Doll’s House'"
"Jamie Lloyd’s ascetic production of Ibsen’s 1879 drama eliminates nearly every conventional marker of character, location, or gesture."
"Whatever else Chastain’s Nora will be, at least we know she has sufficient inner resources to keep herself company while staring through the fourth wall."
"The superb Jessica Chastain plays Nora Helmer—the seemingly happy young wife and mother of Henrik Ibsen’s protofeminist 1879 social drama, who must learn to stop knitting the wool that gets pulled over her eyes—and Jamie Lloyd’s staging zeroes in on her with relentless focus."
"What may look like a marital crisis is truly, for Nora, a matter of life and death. And as Chastain grasps her way to a final decision, she quietly, firmly brings down the house."
"‘A Doll’s House’ on Broadway with Jessica Chastain and Michael Patrick Thornton: It’s all in your head"
"Experiencing the fascinating new revival of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” which reduces the iconic proto-feminist drama to its barest thematic essentials, is not unlike listening to a podcast. For anyone interested in Broadway trends, here is a remarkable example of how the rise of Audible and AirPods — and the huge popularity of stories playing in your ear — has made spectacle not only inessential but maybe even an unnecessary risk. Even on Broadway, which made its bones on frills and feathers."
"Chastain, a formidable actress of stage and screen, is being asked to perform with the intimacy of a movie close-up but also live at the huge Hudson Theatre, a most interesting fusion. It’s the same with everyone: Onaodowan and Thornton’s performances are almost entirely driven by their voices."
"If you are a fan of Chastain’s work, this is not something to miss, if only to watch how she builds outward from inside a theatrical, and marital, box."
"Jessica Chastain captivates in a strikingly minimalist ‘Doll’s House’"
"Ibsen’s masterwork is revived in a spare, illuminating production, directed by Jamie Lloyd"
"If you’re expecting Ibsen with petticoats and silver service, you’ve come to the wrong place. What you get instead is an ensemble wrestling exhilaratingly with a text that revolutionized the way people thought more than a century ago about marriage and the constraints it imposed on women. Even now, the play snaps as freshly as a clothesline in a cool wind. One keenly feels the connection, too, between Ibsen’s time and ours. Chastain may not wear a corset, but her Nora is straitjacketed all the same."
"Lloyd makes Chastain the lodestar in this constellation."
"Jessica Chastain Plays Ibsen’s Nora Sitting Down"
"Jamie Lloyd’s staging of the classic takes minimalism to the extreme"
"Other than the music and Chastain’s extremely emotive performance, Jamie Lloyd’s direction is a parody of minimalism in the theater. Props are banished. A few minor characters have been dropped. The actors all wear black (very Banana Republic), the costumes designed by Soutra Gilmour and Enver Chakartash."