Are all unhappy families are unhappy in the same way?
The Old Globe website describes Noura as, “A riveting West Coast premiere loosely inspired by Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.” I agree, it is loosely related to A Doll’s House. Very loosely.So loosely, in fact, that I don’t think A Doll’s House needs to be referenced in relationship to Noura. There are parallels in the structure of some of the scenes, particularly the opening , but Noura stands on its own and need not draw validation from comparisons to Ibsen’s venerable tale.
(I’ll admit this is a pet peeve of mine. For instance, the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? opens with text which reads, “Based on The Odyssey.” If you tell me a story is based on The Odyssey I’m going to expect the story to close with Odysseus massacring all the suitors and then hanging the household women who were servicing them. O Brother, Where Art Thou? doesn’t end that way.)
With that said, Noura is something of a domestic epic. The scale of the story, which explores the personal odysseys of Iraqi refugees and the destruction of the city of Mosul, is impressive.
The tale is replete with familial conflict, and the way those conflicts play out is based on pure truth. The characters battle each other in a roundabout fashion, particularly Noura and her husband Turiq.
Over the course of this extended scene, both chararacters contradict themselves repeatedly as they fling two decades' worth of accusations at each other. Both claim they wanted to stay in Iraq while also claiming they both wanted to leave. This is exactly the way families fight.
There is no logic. There is no structure. There are contradictions. It is messy. Neither combatant is willing to give quarter. It is a battle for validation, fought with a ferocity that would be right at home in The Trojan War — or the Iraq War.
Noura plays at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre through October 20.