Translated from the original French by Christopher Hampton and staged with commendable directness by Jonathan Kent, The Height of the Storm might seem merely a clever exercise were it not for its highly distinguished stars. In the flashier role, Pryce deftly navigates André's slippery landscape of paranoia, confusion, shame, loneliness and anger, while Atkins-like Madeleine-provides staunch, secure, unfussy support. If there is a picture to this puzzle after all, it is the portrait of a marriage that stretches on till death do them part and beyond.
THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM Broadway Reviews
Two legendary actors come together in one unforgettable story of a shared life and all of its complexities.
Let's see what the critics have to say...
‘The Height of the Storm’ Broadway Review: Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
From: The Wrap | By: Thom Geier | Date: 09/24/2019
Zeller's play, expertly translated by Christopher Hampton, continually leaves us as disoriented as André himself - "People who try to understand things are morons," he says at one point - and the accumulation of contradictions is both unsettling and deeply moving. That is particularly true in the gut-check final scene, brilliantly lit by Hugh Vanstone, which is haunting in every sense of the word.
From: New York Stage Review | By: Steven Suskin | Date: 09/24/2019
The Height of the Storm is a puzzle built on cobwebs, with a couple of puzzle-pieces purposely missing (or perhaps several pieces too many). This allows Zeller's play, like The Father, to succeed on its own terms, sending you out into the night (after eighty-odd minutes with no intermission) talking, thinking, considering and-yes-puzzling over the affair. But in any case, fully and totally engaged.
From: Theatre News Online | By: Joe Dziemianowicz | Date: 09/24/2019
Pryce mines every ounce of Andre's vulnerability, confusion and anger. Atkins is crisp and surprisingly amusing - and with the slightest narrowing of her eyes speaks volumes. Together they are persuasive as a couple who've shared half a century together. In the end, Zeller's work leaves more questions than answers. We never know what Andre is looking at. But there's no doubt that what audiences sees throughout this Storm are these two bright stars at the height of their powers.
From: Hollywood Reporter | By: David Rooney | Date: 09/24/2019
The merciless forces of dementia, anxiety and depression, respectively, torment the protagonists of Florian Zeller's family trilogy, The Father, The Mother and The Son, intricate dramatic puzzles in which the French playwright deftly drops the audience inside the confusion of his characters' heads. All those states of psychological distress exert their cruel influence in The Height of the Storm. If the author's bag of tricks is becoming familiar and the wispy drama is too fragmented to be fully satisfying, the commanding performances of Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins and the meticulous direction of Jonathan Kent nonetheless make this an affecting elegy.
BWW Review: Playwright Florian Zeller Keeps On Playing Those Mind Games With THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM
From: BroadwayWorld | By: Michael Dale | Date: 09/24/2019
At its best, THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM, sensitively touches on the subject of surviving spouses of decades-long marriages reacting to permanent separation, be it by death or by mental deterioration. The two stars are quite touching together, and if the play sags as drama, it succeeds in showcasing a pair of brilliant stage actors.
From: amNY | By: Matt Windman | Date: 09/24/2019
"The Height of the Storm" is essentially a fuzzier, opaque reworking of Zeller's "The Father," which also depicted an elderly man named André (then played by Frank Langella) suffering from severe dementia in an intense and jarring manner. The principal difference is that "The Height of the Storm," in taking on a jumbled structure and always trying to play games with the audience, feels thin, repetitive and too conceptual.
From: Variety | By: Marilyn Stasio | Date: 09/24/2019
The slender plot, such as it is, involves the usual crises following the death of a parent. Do we sell the house? What's to become of Dad and/or Mom? How can we salvage Dad's valuable unpublished work? Who's going to take all these books? These are some of the questions pondered by the couple's two grown children, loving Anne (Amanda Drew) and self-centered Elise (Lisa O'Hare). They are, of course, the eternal questions whenever a parent dies, and these two siblings are no better equipped to deal with them than any of the rest of us. But if we learn nothing about bearing up under grief from these hapless sisters, we can still treasure two superb performances from two great actors.
From: Theatre News Online | By: Jeremy Gerard | Date: 09/24/2019
And while The Father cast us on a rocky, battering shore with one disintegrating character brilliantly played by Frank Langella, Storm offers two unfathomably deep, indelibly collaborative performances, by Jonathan Pryce as André, a celebrated novelist settled into arch irrelevance, and Eileen Atkins as Madeleine, the unshakeable garden-loving wife who promised to outlive him.
From: Deadline | By: Greg Evans | Date: 09/24/2019
"Haunting" is a word critics overuse, but sometimes nothing else will do. Still, I'll do my best to avoid it - after this review of The Height of the Storm, the thoughtful and engrossing new play by Florian Zeller, translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, opening tonight at the Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway.
From: Vulture | By: Sara Holdren | Date: 09/24/2019
In some ways, the delicacy of The Height of the Storm is its strength - in the opportunity it offers for powerful actors to work with small brushes, and in the notable and refreshing absence of rage and resentment from its central characters. But this gauziness of tone also keeps the play from feeling intellectually or emotionally filling. It feels, to use the French, like an étude - a chance for performers to play briefly, and at times movingly, on certain themes, but without much ultimate sense of consequence.
From: Daily Beast | By: Tim Teeman | Date: 09/24/2019
The Height of the Storm is written by Florian Zeller, translated by Christopher Hampton. Most recently in New York, we saw Zeller-translated-by-Hampton's The Mother, starring Isabelle Huppert, and in that-just as here-a blur of time and perspectives adds a general sense of bafflement to the drama on stage.
From: New York Times | By: Jesse Green | Date: 09/24/2019
You have to admit that a playwright could do worse than creating a juicy acting exercise for treasurable actors in their 70s (Mr. Pryce) and 80s (Ms. Atkins). Does it matter so much that for all their skill - set off by Mr. Kent's exquisitely decorous Broadway staging - there's no there there? It does. Even if you accept that "The Height of the Storm" (as I wrote about "The Father") is more of a vehicle than a destination, you may eventually grow weary of being taken for a ride.
From: New York Stage Review | By: Melissa Rose Bernardo | Date: 09/24/2019
The play is at its best at its most meditative-the calm during the Storm, if you will. André, achieving an ever-so-brief moment of lucidity with Anne: "You know, as time goes by, You see things in a different light. What once seemed important to us suddenly becomes trivial." Or Madeleine, enjoying the silence after their daughters have departed: "It's nice of them to come and see us... But after two days, I've had enough of it. Don't you think?" A few more of those moody, mushroom-peeling moments would not have been unwelcome.
From: Theatre News Online | By: David Cote | Date: 09/24/2019
Jonathan Kent's handsomely designed and solidly acted production can't overcome the inherent banality and inertia of Zeller's pallid script, which ultimately resolves into widower porn. André finds a card of condolence that came with flowers introduced in the first scene and, finally, his sad situation becomes clear to him (and us, assuming we're still awake). His love lost but still sitting spookily beside him, our writer frets in his tasteful kitchen (picturesquely designed by Anthony Ward).