The opening monologue in the published script asks the audience to consider the likelihood of “an infinite number of planet earths.” And then: “It would be very helpful if — as you watch this play — you were to imagine that the play takes place on one of those slightly different planet earths located billions of light years away from our own.”
Spectators, of course, don’t always do as they’re asked. Mr. Yew remembers that at Victory Gardens, “everyone brought their garbage, really, to the play”; whatever they were thinking about the election came into the theater with them. Some got upset, worried that “Hillary” would harm the real Mrs. Clinton’s chances.
That same spring, right after the Chicago run, Ken Rus Schmoll directed a production at the Philadelphia Theater Company. After the election, though, few other stagings followed. (Through a spokeswoman, neither Mr. Hnath nor anyone affiliated with the Broadway production would comment for this article, but Mr. Yew said that the playwright had been revising “Hillary.”)
The Hnath work that’s truly taken off is “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” which opened on Broadway in April 2017 and, according to American Theater magazine, is the current season’s most-produced play. The first Broadway show for Mr. Hnath, who until then was a downtown darling known for brainy experimentation, it won Ms. Metcalf her first Tony.
In “Doll’s House,” she played Nora, Mr. Hnath’s reworking of Ibsen’s classic character — a strong-minded, convention-breaking woman, a figure important to the cultural imagination and much deliberated there. The same could be said of Hillary Clinton, except of course that she is also a living human being.
There is a certain logic to both of these plays, and both of these famous characters, appearing on Broadway post-pussy hat — written by the same playwright, performed by the same actress.
In his notes for the published “Hillary,” Mr. Hnath sounds almost eager to discover how the play comes across without a Clinton candidacy hanging in the balance.