Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Jonathan Kent’s production now playing on Broadway.

(C) Joan Marcus.

Observer: “If The Height of the Storm is enigmatic gibberish, the two stars work hard to give it some symmetry. Pryce is both bombastic and senile, while Atkins makes even her moments of quiet contemplation without dialogue throb with quiet vitality.”

Variety: “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.”

Wall Street Journal: “Old actors never die, they just start appearing in old-actor plays, of which there are two kinds: feel-good old-age-isn’t-for-sissies weepers like “On Golden Pond” and harsh old-age-is-a-shipwreck dramas like “The Waverly Gallery.” Florian Zeller’s “The Height of the Storm,” which has transferred to Broadway after a successful West End run, is a play of the first kind dressed up to look like a play of the second kind.”

The New York Times: “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?” “Pryce is her match, given the more traditionally “elderly” character, forgetful and shaky and terrified of both death and its alternative. His nervous repetitions, his fearful retreats, his bellowing outbursts do more than show a character in decline: Pryce’s performance somehow – and simultaneously – suggests the man André was.”

DC Theatre Scene: “As with the New York productions of The Father and The Mother, the Broadway production of The Height of the Storm is staged professionally by director Jonathan Kent, with a solid, detailed set and realistic costumes by Anthony Ward, as well as dramatic lighting by Hugh Vanstone.  Jonathan Pryce, CBE (Game of Thrones, Miss Saigon) and Dame Eileen Atkins (The Crown,Doubt) are both British actors of great renown, and they offer memorable moments of emotional power and clarity” “The production’s saving grace is the absolutely wonderful Eileen Atkins. Though Pryce’s André — with his shaking hands, faraway stare, and sporadic outbursts both of cheer and aggrieved frustration — is more accurately the center of the show, he’s too consistently lost to captivate us as fully as Atkins’s brisk, no-nonsense Madeleine.”

Broadway World: “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.”

Hollywood Reporter: “Without giving too much away, the play is at its most emotionally piercing when it explores the ways in which death rips the ground out from under the surviving partner in a marriage.”

Exeunt NYC: “We’ve seen this kind of play before, but The Height of the Storm doesn’t always commit, meaning that it loses the opportunity to really tap into the form and create something surprising, because, for all of the talent of Pryce and Atkins, and the beauty of the production, it still feels, at its heart, predictable, with the structure trying, albeit mildly, to present the same gift with not-so-different wrapping.”

New York Stage Review: **** “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.”

New York Theatre Guide: **** “Pryce is never less that fabulous to watch. He is not so much upstaged by Atkins as restrained by the character. His André is confused and frightened and longing for what has passed for a big share of the 80-minute performance. Pryce has to hold that line and so has fewer layers to offer.”

The Wrap: ” The 85-minute drama’s short scenes play out in quick succession on a single, hyper-realistic set (designed by Anthony Ward): the high-ceilinged rural French home where the famed author André has lived with his devoted wife of many decades, played with indomitable patience and gentleness by Eileen Atkins.”

The Height of the Storm continues to play at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre until the 24th November.


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