In the latest adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s enduring classic, “A Doll’s House,” our protagonist Nora — Academy Award-winning actor Jessica Chastain — enters before the play’s start, remaining perched on a simple wooden chair. For over ten minutes, the chair — atop a turntable — orbits the Hudson Theatre’s stage where Chastain remains stoic and soundless, undisturbed by shuffling patrons and busy ushers. Even if she was allowed to move, there is neither set nor props to interact with; only a stack of similarly ligneous chairs and a projection of the date 1879 on the Hudson’s back wall. In this boldly envisioned, yet minimalistically executed production directed by Jamie Lloyd and adapted by Amy Herzog, silence and simplicity are constantly at play.
Lloyd and Herzog pare Ibsen’s three acts down to an intermissionless two hours, wisely lightening up the traditional length of “A Doll’s House.” They darken just about everything else. Their production adopts an ominous, haunting view of 19th-century Norway unified by the ensemble of actors’ monotone rendering of prose, shadows that dance along the proscenium theater’s back wall (lighting design by Jon Clark), a bare and icy set (designed by Soutra Gilmour) and morose costumes cloaked in the inkiest navy blue (costume design by Gilmour and Enver Chakartash).