The Public Staging ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’; ‘Vinegar Tom’ Continues at The Playhouse (Thurs., 3/7/19)

Cue the sequel: she's back. Lisa Velten Smith is Nora in 'A Doll's House Part 2' by Lucas Hnath, at The Public. (photo courtesy of the artist)

Cue the sequel: she’s back. Lisa Velten Smith is Nora in ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ by Lucas Hnath, at The Public. (photo courtesy of the artist)

1) Among the current wave of hot new playwrights, the A-list includes Lucas Hnath, whose subject matter ranges widely. His Isaac’s Eye is a riff on Isaac Newton and science, while Red Speedo revolves around a competitive swimmer caught doping. The Christians, performed in Pittsburgh two years ago by Kinetic Theatre, is about a church pastor trying to persuade his old-school congregation that Hell does not exist. Now Pittsburgh Public Theater stages Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, a seriocomic sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, which shocked the world in the late 1800s by depicting a liberated woman who leaves her husband and children. Part 2 is set 15 years later. The woman, Nora, returns to confront her estranged husband over their divorce, which still isn’t legally settled, and winds up confronting many other issues as well. Hnath’s plays are praised because his characters are not simple, and neither are the predicaments they face in trying to determine what’s right.

A Doll’s House, Part 2 is directed for The Public by Ted Pappas, the company’s former longtime artistic director. Cast members are Lisa Velten Smith, Daniel Krell, Helena Ruoti, and Marielle Young. 8 p.m. Performances continue through April 7. At the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District.

2) When Caryl Churchill turned 80 last year, articles in the British press paid tribute to her status as the grand dame of feminist theater and one of the most unconventional, “unpredictable” modern playwrights. Her plays vary in subject matter and style, many of them shape-shifting as they unfold. Here in Pittsburgh, Point Park Conservatory Theatre pays tribute by staging Churchill’s Vinegar Tom. The subject is persecution of alleged witches in England during the 1600s. In that respect the play is similar to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible—if you can imagine a Crucible with sex scenes, execution scenes, and raunchy songs. Various women are accused of causing everything that goes wrong in a small village. The only common thread is that all the suspected culprits are women, since women are seen as inherently wicked. And Vinegar Tom? He’s a black cat who just might be, or symbolize, the real villain. 7:30 p.m. Runs through March 10.Sold out. In the Rauh Theatre at the new Pittsburgh Playhouse, 350 Forbes Ave., Downtown. (MV)