Noura NYC Reviews and Tickets

76%
(181 Reviews)
Positive
77%
Mixed
21%
Negative
2%
Members say
Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Relevant, Intelligent, Great acting

About the Show

Playwrights Horizons' new drama about an Iraqi-American charts the intricate pathways of motherhood and marriage — and the fragile architecture of what we call home. Based on Ibsen's "A Doll's House."

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Member Reviews (181)

80
Riff on ibsen's doll house, presents many rich issues arising from iraqi immigrant (1) caught between iraqi past & american future & (2) trying to be a strong, independent woman in an oppressive patriarchal arab culture

See it if profound; beautiful, poetic script & striking set/staging show Noura's paradoxical struggle 2 both embrace & break free from Iraqi roots

Don't see it if overstuffed, poorly paced; last 20 minutes so densely packed w revelations of secrets & feminist outpourings, makes your head spin Read more

82
Ambitious, Confusing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You want a Dolls House-inspired drama about refugees & family dynamics. You want a relevant play that deals w/of the moment issues.

Don't see it if You're not in the mood to pay attention: you'll need to in order to work out the relationships before the action. You want a light comedy.

Critic Reviews (35)

December 10th, 2018

"Compelling and ambitious but also, under Joanna Settle’s direction, a bit blurry. With so much going on inside the title character, much of it contradictory, the audience may feel, along with her family, flummoxed by her whipsawing...Settle’s production is long on mood, short on clarity. Yet many moments are perfectly clear and stirringly powerful..It’s good that the best parts of 'Noura' aren’t easy. But a central performance as deep as Raffo’s can eventually become inaccessible."
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December 10th, 2018

"The first half-hour of Raffo’s family drama 'Noura' is lovely...Raffo is at her best when she’s in this preparatory phase... When the actual plot kicks in, 'Noura' becomes both predictable and, whenever Raffo gives herself a speech, strangely overwritten...Raffo has taken inspiration from Ibsen’s 'A Doll’s House,' itself indebted to the 19th century's 'well-made play' clichés. Raffo gets caught up in that machinery, and those heavy old gears grind even her very fine characterizations into dust."
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December 20th, 2018

"Raffo has given us a human drama...One of the finest new plays I’ve ever reviewed in this space...Full of unexpected revelations and flashes of sudden, blinding illumination. Time and again, Raffo’s characters casually tell us things that open our eyes to the tragic complexity of their lives...directed with supreme assurance by Joanna Settle,...and acted by a cast whose other members are worthy of the galvanizing challenge of sharing a stage with the charismatic Ms. Raffo."
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December 10th, 2018

"Now receiving a darkly evocative production from director Joanna Settle, the occasionally too-wordy drama is likely to leave audiences with deeply unsettled feelings about everything...In both her writing and performance, Raffo harnesses the expressive power of the unsaid. Unfortunately, certain choices undermine that enthralling silence...A messier play than 'A Doll's House,' but in many ways, it's a more honest one.
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December 11th, 2018

“’Noura’ has a timely and fascinating subject in the psychological and spiritual challenges of Iraqi refugees making new lives in America, but...Raffo overeggs the Christmas pudding larding her plot with so many revelations that her drama teeters on the edge of collapse...One shocker follows another at regular intervals...There's a lot going on in ‘Noura’, but to muted effect. Too bad -- there's a gripping story here, waiting to be told.”
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December 10th, 2018

"When we leave, we reflect that what we've just seen registers more as mood than drama. It's been given a loving production...There are some real issues raised, and some good speeches...Raffo's unvarying delivery aside, the actors are fine...'Noura' provides welcome disclosure into unfamiliar perspectives, but it's a long, static hour and a half...Provocative topics, but in 'Noura,' they come through only fitfully."
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December 10th, 2018

"'Noura' is no Ibsen retread; it’s very much Raffo’s own—an intriguing exploration of marriage, motherhood, heritage, and community that lingers long after its 90-minute conclusion...There’s a bit of a wall around 'Noura,' much like the title character herself. Raffo is a dynamic writer and performer, but she can be prone to speechifying."
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December 11th, 2018

“The contemporary immigrant experience is explored in the heartfelt, didactic and inert family drama, ‘Noura’...Raffo’s characters, themes and situations tenuously recall Ibsen but without his monumental command of drama. Most woeful is the clunky surprise ending. Non-realistic asides and a stylized presentation compound the play’s defects...Without a defined plot, it plays out as a limp multi-character study...'Noura’s’ nobility just isn’t matched by its stilted writing."
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December 10th, 2018

“An enchanting and poetic new play about Iraqi refugees...The smart and stimulating dilemmas...kept my mind racing long after the play ended...Tropes and themes in Raffo’s play clearly echo Ibsen’s masterpiece. The comparison takes nothing away from Raffo’s originality, but suggests the heritage of the theatre as a lens through which to view this intelligent new play....Raffo’s script is a hopeful and optimistic take that flits and floats like a holiday miracle.”
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December 10th, 2018

"Director Joanna Settle, who has teamed with Raffo before, clearly understands the play and its heroine, but she can’t quite put it over the top. Inspired by Ibsen’s 'A Doll’s House' but possessing a personality very much its own, 'Noura' deals with important personal themes for its main character and the playwright. These issues are largely internal, making them challenging to dramatize, and Raffo only partly meets the challenge."
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December 10th, 2018

"Raffo and the four other actors deftly navigate the complexities that shape how they see their lives and relationships with each other. However, with so many issues to unspool in such a short time, their interactions at times short change emotionally engaging dramatics for debate-like discussions...The chance to become acquainted with people most of us know little about, the strong performances and intriguing stagecraft make this play's payoff greater than its shortcomings."
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December 11th, 2018

“It would be a cheap shot to say ‘Noura’ is just a contemporary version of ‘A Doll’s House’, with an Iraqi-refugee wash. But, it gets us in the ballpark. There are many intriguing parallels, but Raffo’s ‘Noura’ borrows judiciously and enriches profoundly. It has the immediacy of a news flash and the overlay of brutal, desperate flight...’Noura’ is philosophically intriguing but needs more in the emotional-impact department to satisfy.”
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December 10th, 2018

"There’s a very powerful story hidden deep inside branches of the Christmas tree center stage in the fascinating and relevant new play...Numerous moments are lost or forgotten, and plot-lines squandered...'Noura' feels like a series of talking points about someone’s disturbing but disjointed journey from there to here, that never really gets inside us. It’s worth the wait though, in the end, for that last powerful unwrapping."
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December 11th, 2018

"The deep irony of 'Noura' is that...Noura still can’t find a place in the world to be free of shame and of secrets, and where other people’s ideas of her don’t shape her identity. Her new life is physically safer than the old, but doesn’t allow her to find a sense of self...Raffo is a luminous performer; we feel every thought that crosses Noura’s mind, and Raffo has the flexibility and complexity to make Noura both abrasive and vulnerable, and her struggle both frustrating and moving."
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December 10th, 2018

"Raffo, who also turns in a powerful performance as Noura, has a lot she wants to tell us: about the experience of being an Iraqi refugee in America; handling the challenges of forging one's personal and political identity; finding the balance between family - especially motherhood - and individual fulfillment, and, above all, satisfying the almost impossible need to both hold on and let go of the past."
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December 10th, 2018

"A sensitive but only passably successful work…Raffo's dialogue is sometimes straightforward and natural, sometimes elusively vague and pseudo-poetic. While there are moments of insight and human warmth, too many others feel contrived and artificial…Raffo leads a company of excellent actors…But 'Noura''s significance resides mainly in its presentation of well-trodden but powerful tropes…embedded within a world that, for all its initial unfamiliarity, turns out to be pretty familiar after all."
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December 10th, 2018

"Brilliantly shows how individuals have escaped their homelands and immigrated to America for opportunity...In the end the plot points were searing, but the play gets lost in its own lack of identity. Settle’s direction is a kaleidoscope of colors, but she loses her battle in understanding Noura or to even have sympathy for her...The cast all gives stellar performances and I think Raffo is a better actress than playwright, except we need to have sympathy for Noura and in the end we have lost it."
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December 10th, 2018

"There are many important issues raised — the difficulties faced by immigrants, conflicting feelings about honoring a past that is forever gone while adjusting to a new life, dealing with nightmare memories of war, finding a balance between community and individualism, and facing the corrosive effects of tribalism, both in Iraq and in the U.S. Some of these are better worked into the fabric of the play than others. I am sorry that the author felt the need to add some melodrama to the mix."
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December 11th, 2018

“Raffo packs so much into her plot, including a surprise twist, that the end result is rather diffuse. There are commanding ingredients for an audience to contemplate, but the play doesn’t have sufficient impact to leave one deeply moved. However, there are many striking moments tied to the underlying theme...Settle keeps the busy dialogue brimming...Settle is meticulous in building an atmosphere ripe for puncturing...If only we could feel more deeply about the outcome.”
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December 12th, 2018

“Raffo’s play is meaty, but difficult. It seems to lurch rather than flow. We get no sense of Noura’s relationship to her husband before everything hits the fan. Rafa’a is an amiable cipher. The unresolved ending feels like a cop-out. There are important ideas here, applicable beyond the situation, but, in the end, the piece is less satisfying than it might be...Raffo is clearly invested as an actress, though performance is a bit one note. Elouahabi feels solid and real as does Azama.”
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December 15th, 2018

“Raffo plays the title character with depth and élan...A parallel with ‘A Doll’s House’. Raffo makes no pretense of disguising the correspondences with that classic work...Artfully directed...the actors bring these...characters vividly to life. Despite some elevated language, they feel lucidly, eloquently real...They’re versions of people in your own family, your own world. That’s the measure of Raffo’s accomplishment and the success of this production.”
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December 10th, 2018

“I expected to like ‘Noura’...I knew it was about a Christian Iraqi family living in the US, which I found intriguing, and that it delves into assimilation and loss, individualism versus community, and lies and secrets, topics that are endlessly delve-able. In addition, it riffs on ‘A Doll's House’...As the play unfolded, I found I had questions...’What is this play about, anyway?’ ‘And why should I care?’...There may be more to it than I perceived."
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December 13th, 2018

"Elegantly constructed...In this delicate memory play, each element crafted is key. Each character’s current passions, past actions, and future dreams are filtered through American politics, different religious traditions, intertwined personal and family histories, and expectations for each other."
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December 11th, 2018

“The play isn’t perfect — the plot occasionally takes predictable, soapy turns...Pacing remains breakneck, which doesn’t always allow the actors to realize a moment for its full effect. And although ‘Noura’ is essentially a realist drama, the staging includes several visual aspects that suggest spectacle for its own sake. In spite of its minor flaws, ‘Noura’ tells a story that deserves to be heard. Raffo shows how a contemporary writer can dialogue with a work of the past."
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December 23rd, 2018

"The problems with 'Noura' are many, but the main reason that it never resonates with the audience is that Heather Raffo never goes deep enough. Raffo only scratches the surfaces, the many subject surfaces, but never gives us any meat to the story...Settle never has the audience interested in these people...Raffo gives us many different subjects and spends little time on each one...The essence of this play is that it was never focused."
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December 19th, 2018

"What 'Noura' does successfully is explore the challenges of living free and happy as an immigrant in America from many angles, as the characters express the various ways identity and culture can fulfill one’s sense of being—but it also shows how malleable traditions may become in the need for survival."
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February 14th, 2018

"Raffo’s restless, unpredictable riff on Henrik Ibsen’s 'A Doll’s House' and modern Iraq, of all things, shapes up as this festival’s best bet...Settle’s grand, simple staging at the Lansburgh Theatre and Raffo’s impassioned central performance command attention...The finish is torrential, and the portrait of a woman torn between cultures and family members is nearly searing...The slow crescendo and deep repercussions of 'Noura' make it the festival’s most ambitious and substantial premiere."
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February 21st, 2018

"Raffo is brilliant in the title role and brings a great deal of subtle charm to the part of the intelligent, somewhat rebellious Noura...Settle keeps the humor of the play as present as its intellectual content...Raffo's story incisively mines complicated relationships between men and women, cultures, and personal beliefs. The heart of 'A Doll's House' is cleverly and closely woven into 'Noura,' resulting in an excellent play about immigration, assimilation, and identity."
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February 17th, 2018

"While Raffo proves adept at weaving all of these complex elements of identity into her story...the script does have one or two weaknesses. At only ninety minutes, it takes a bit too long to get going dramatically although the wait is, to some extent, worth the payoff...Strong direction by Joanna Settle, a mostly strong cast, and wonderful production elements allow the audience to get the most out of the theatergoing experience."
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February 15th, 2018

"Provides a window into a world that is unfamiliar to most audiences...The two women's impassioned performances anchor the production, while Brumberg has a sweet natural presence. Andrew Lieberman's scenic design adds to the dreamlike feeling of the production...Masha Tsimring's lighting design and Obadiah Eaves' sound design add to the sense of unease that underlies the characters' search for a safe place to live."
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February 14th, 2018

"What is so frustrating is that every part of the play works, but fully assembled, it is at war with itself...Notwithstanding Joanna Settle’s canny direction, and fine performances by the cast, it does not hang together. The characters are authentic, the dialogue is authentic, the stories are authentic, but there is no through line, and the play’s dénouement seems like just another left turn in the narrative, rather than a satisfying catharsis."
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February 18th, 2018

"A magnificent production. The acting is first-rate, the technical aspects flawless, the whole experience complex and full of deep meaning...Yet for me, some aspects of it were unsatisfying...As Noura's secrets begin to be revealed, the plot begins to seem forced and less credible...The end, when it comes, is abrupt and doesn’t seem realistic...As much as I tried to, I could not believe in her tragic past or her broken heart. But don’t take my word for it. Enjoy the play and decide for yourself."
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February 16th, 2018

"Raffo has brought Ibsen’s work to new life...Her script bounces back and forth like a game of tennis between humor and strained arguments...Raffo does a beautiful job of weaving in nods to Ibsen’s work...It is moments like these that will delight fans of the original source material...This play will absolutely without a doubt make you feel uncomfortable. However, that is no reason to shy away from it. The story is worth seeing and in many ways needed to be seen."
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February 20th, 2018

"Nothing but well-meaning attempts are evident in the construction, performances, and technical aspects...but the show is chilly and distancing regardless. This is one of those plays where you don’t wonder why there’s no intermission — people just wouldn’t come back...At its best as a political discussion, not a family drama...We care more about these characters as cultural signifiers than as people...The character Noura’s political and cultural arguments are more interesting than she is."
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February 23rd, 2018

"Raffo employs her Iraqi heritage to write contemporary plays that deal with the major political themes...Her knack for contemporary themes and issues makes this work worth watching...This flawed but powerful work leaves us dissatisfied. Raffo’s adherence to the structure of Ibsen’s work strangles this staging...Even though this feels like a missed opportunity by Raffo, the play is still worth checking out as it lays bare the lives of immigrants in a way not often seen."
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