Puppets are en vogue of late, and now Ibsen gets the treatment in writer-director Teresa Ann Virginia Bayer's take on A Doll’s House. A talented cast of five women and one man imports the story to 1950s America for an exploration of postwar feminism. Nora (standout Zoe Farmingdale—she and Michael Racioppa are the company's only non-puppeteers) has just returned to the suburbs after a trip to Florida for the health of her intolerable husband, Harold (Melissa Diane Martin). She financed the voyage with a loan from one of her former johns; prostitution is how she stayed afloat while Harold was stationed overseas, and now she is bedeviled on all sides by blackmail and betrayal by so-called friends. Adding to the staging's sense of claustrophobia are vintage TV sets shrieking ad slogans of the day and an offstage voice repeatedly warning that a “tidy house is a peaceful house.” Although Nora’s awakening, when it comes, doesn’t feel entirely earned, the cast is terrific and the use of puppets makes for a clever, thought-provoking critique of gender politics.—Shani R. Friedman
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