Last weekend we went to the Guthrie Theater for a modern rewrite of Ibsen's classic play, A Doll's House. Dollhouse by Rebecca Gilman uses Ibsen as the starting point for a 2004 interpretation of issues of materialism, truth, and living happily ever after.
Nora seems to have it all: a successful husband, three adorable children and a beautiful home in Lincoln Park. What looks like the picture perfect life, outfitted in the latest from Pottery Barn, is actually a complicated trap of secrets and lies, from which there is no easy bailout.We were alerted by the Playbill that the ending would be as controversial as Ibsen's original where Nora, to the horror of a previous culture, left her children behind to seek her "self." What would this Nora do? How would she be as audacious as Ibsen's Nora? At intermission my wife and I pondered the possibilities. We challenged each other with controversy.
But as usual controversy often comes from what you don't expect, not what you can guess. I will not spoil the plot to say anymore specifically, but as the play ended we both found ourselves going, "Oh! That does make us stop and think. Hmmm." We each even found ourselves pondering it that evening and at different times during the week.
The power of drama to grab us and pull us into its own universe never fails to amaze me. Even when I try to out-think the playwright the "black swans" of quality writers will still make me stretch my horizons, whether I agree with the conclusion or not.
I guess that is what life is like as well.