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Escape Acts: “A Doll’s House” reviewed

Jessica Chastain dares you – but to do what?

Nearly 150 years ago, Nora Helmer left her husband with a door slam heard round the world, inspiring innumerable analyses of Henrik Ibsen’s feminist play A Doll’s House around the world. Jamie Lloyd’s new revival at the Hudson Theatre is a pared-down production – all the better to see Oscar-winner Jessica Chastain with – that leaves gaps between the audience and characters. With a modernized adaptation courtesy of Amy Herzog full of contemporary attitudes and slang, the politics and the poetry of the original text gets shunned in favor of something soapier.

But what we’re left with is really two shows: the bulk of the work, in which Nora’s covert actions and lies must come to the fore, and then the last ten minutes, in which she abandons her responsibilities to discover her true self in an independent life out in the world. Lloyd simply can’t bridge the former and the latter, and despite a focused, present Chastain as Nora, all we’re really doing is waiting her to make a not-so-grand exit. Is she facing a new future, or simply catching an uber? It’s hard to say, and this production doesn’t ultimately seem to care.

A Doll’s House

Hudson Theatre