Later this month, The Street Theatre will stage the sequel to a classic 19th century Norwegian stage drama that was written, and debuted, some 138 years after the original.
US playwright Lucas Hnath’s 2017 follow-up to Henry Ibsen’s 1879 classic A Doll’s House is far more than a work of fan-fiction, having been nominated for a Tony Award after its 2017 Broadway hit run.
Canberra actor Camilla Blunden has found her role in A Doll’s House, Part 2 both fascinating, and challenging.
“He (Hnath) obviously had something in mind, so for him to take something that was written by Ibsen, and then kind of continue it, but flip it as well, makes it very interesting,” she tells Canberra Weekly.
Part 2 imagines what happened to Nora, Ibsen’s famous female literary character in A Doll’s House after slamming the door to her family home, leaving behind her husband and three children.
It sees Nora return to that same door 15 years later, independent and confident with a high-stakes game of unfinished business on her mind.
Blunden plays Anne-Marie, the nanny who stayed on and looked after Nora’s children.
“She’s around my age, in her 70s, but she’s very different. She’s had a very tough life, so getting inside that and getting in the physicality of that is very important to me.
“I’ve been in the industry for over 40 years, both as an actor and director, and it’s exciting when you’re working on something and actually having to find the core of the person,” she says.
The Street’s production also stars acclaimed Melbourne stand-up comedian Rachel Berger in the role of Nora, who is to be supported by a host of local actors including PJ Williams as Torvald Helmer, and Lily Constantine as Emmy, Nora’s daughter.
Constantine, a late addition to the cast, returned to Canberra from Melbourne to take on the role after local actor Nathalie Morris was cast in a film.
“I knew they were doing the show and I was very interested in it. I wasn’t expecting to be a part of it; it was just a call out the blue which was very nice.
“It’s still fairly early so I don’t feel I’ve missed out on too much; there’s been a few things I’ve had to ask questions about but the cast has just been wonderful so it’s fine, it’s been a very warm room to walk in to, despite the cold,” she smiles.
Constantine says Part 2 is, at its core, a play about relationships and consequences.
“I think the audience will see a lot of tension on stage,” she says.
“Each character has a very distinctive point of view, and they stick to that … Then there are those interesting moments when maybe an argument does get through.”
An aspect of the play that stands out to Constantine is how the period setting, costume and look of the play clashes with the work’s contemporary, colloquial dialogue.
“It specifies in the text that costume should be of the time, but then the language is really, for the most part, very modern and quite colloquial.
“The characters are quite well spoken, but then there are moments where the dialogue is very contemporary, and that can take you out of the setting in a surprising fashion,” she says.
A Doll’s House, Part 2 will be performed at The Street, City West on 15-23 June; thestreet.org.au