Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is the latest classic to be revived this season. The production, directed by Jamie Lloyd with a book adapted by Amy Herzog, opened at the Hudson Theatre on March 9. Academy Award winner Jessica Chastain stars as Nora opposite Tony nominee Arian Moayed as her husband, Torvald.
The latest episode of The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal checks in with Chastain, Moayed and Lloyd on the red carpet for their opening night on Broadway and share how audiences learn the powerful connection between the 1879-set play and present day.
In this minimalist production, the power dynamic between Nora and Torvald is laid bare, as Torvald presides as the traditional head of household and condescends to his “little bird” of a wife. In 2023, Moayed said the production forces men to reevaluate their habituated actions.
“So many men have seen this show and they’re like, ‘I think I behave that way,’ and didn’t realize they maybe shouldn’t,” Moayed said. “We live in a very patriarchal society from the beginning of time, and it’s hard for us to unpack that because we don’t even realize what we’re doing.”
Lloyd added that these actions come out of an impulse to seek from others what we cannot find in ourselves. “If you really unpick every human interaction, there’s always this sense that we always want to be approved of by the other person,” the director said. “Often, the other person is trying to control us or trying to keep us in a particular box … that’s clearly what happens with Nora.”
As dynamics shift over the course of the drama, Nora decides to change her fate and leave her husband — something Moayed called “a realization for all of us.”
“We are all a part of a system that is perpetuating something that is completely unnecessary and really actually random, at times,” the actor continued. It makes Moayed and the audience reflect: “Why are we doing these rules the way that we [think we] have to do these rules?”
Lloyd agreed: “What is so powerful about what Nora does is to say, ‘No I’ve had enough of that.’ It’s a very difficult but inspiring lesson.”
Lloyd also spoke of the power and importance of learning to become your own person in the world, as Nora eventually does: “If we can take that away from the experience of the play, then all the better.”
Even though the play holds many lessons and is a classic, in part, because of its timelessness, Moayed said his hope is that society is no longer plagued by patriarchal instincts and crises of confidence — that audiences eventually won’t be able to relate to it. As he said: “I wish, one day, A Doll’s House is dated.”
In this week’s episode of The Broadway Show, Paul Wontorek chats with Micaela Diamond, currently starring alongside Ben Platt in Parade. Viewers can get to know Hiran Abeysekera from the upcoming Life of Pi in this week’s Fresh Face segment. The episode features interviews with the cast of the upcoming Broadway mounting of Fat Ham. MJ star Ayana Jackson walks audiences through the Theater District in a conversation about making it big on Broadway at 50. The episode concludes with an interview between Jessica Azenberg, author of Stories Dad Told Me, and her father, eight-time Tony-winning producer Manny Azenberg.