“The Walkout:” It’s a perfect 11 o’clock moment, the instant your hero shouts, “Enough!” then marches out the door, leaving the familiar behind for the unknown.
A film and a play recently made Grade A hay out of this device. The former, Vera Farmiga’s “Higher Ground,” examines one woman’s journey in and out of faith; the second, “A Doll’s House” (which I saw in revival at Williamstown), presents a wife on the verge of implosion. Each woman makes a dramatic exit, and each gives a wrenching, climactic address explaining why she’s leaving and what she clings to as – click click – her heels take her into uncertainty and solitude.
As played by the soul-baring Vera Farmiga (“Higher Ground”) and Lily Rabe (“Doll’s House”), these climaxes are totally eviscerating, brazenly proclaiming the terrifying complexity of human relationships. This clarity is upsetting but very effective.
While “Doll’s House” may have initially registered as a piece of political theater (it was first produced in 1879 Denmark), in Williamstown’s production the big walkout is politics of the heart. “Higher Ground,” similarly apolitical, also sides not with the secular world or with the church, but with its unsure heroine, one woman waiting… waiting… waiting on God. “The Walkout” may be just a device, but in the capable hands of these artists, it registers as anything but.