We take a look at what critics have had to say about the world premiere of Theresa Rebeck‘s play.

(c)Marc Brenner

The Guardian: *** “That is not to say that this play does not have rich and gripping moments: there is good insight into unresolved hurt in sibling relationships, especially the way Michael’s mental health issues have overshadowed Pam and Nedward’s early lives. It also captures the way in which adults regress into their childhood selves, scrapping over who will sleep in which bedroom, and becoming bullies or allies.”

Broadway World: ***** “Pullman is perfectly cast as the ailing but restless father – we understand his frustration, laugh at his boyish humour and feel for him when he realises the level of greed inhabited by the two children who haven’t been around to look after him. Harbour also captivates, enjoying effortless chemistry with Henry and radiating the anger, hurt and exasperation at being persecuted and undermined for his previous battles with mental health. It’s a multi-faceted, nuanced and heart-wrenching portrayal.”

The Independent: *** “It’s a fine showcase for the talents of Harbour and Bill Pullman, but ‘Mad House’ is built on shaky foundations.”

Official London Theatre: “The play deals with hugely dark themes of family death, suicide, domestic violence and mental health. However, it is also an incredibly warm play, with compelling characters and truly sensational acting from a knockout cast. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, with heart-warming, delightful moments. It’s a tender play about loss, grief, regret and the ways we cope when we are forced to deal with each other in times of family crisis.”

Evening Standard: ***** “Rebeck’s play boldly cracks open the suffocating messiness of death, family, and mental health. This particular dysfunctional family treats mental illness as monstrous, but they’re reflective of a wider societal problem. When considering that conversations between the playwright and Harbour himself – about his own experience of being diagnosed and institutionalised with bipolar disorder at age 26 – helped shape the script, the play gains new meaning, and the power driving his performance feels even more potent.”

The Arts Desk: *** “this may be a play which leaves the depths unplumbed, but in the character of Michael there is a complexity that endures, like a pearl glowing out of the tart material that embeds it. It’s a memorable vehicle for David Harbour’s talent, and that is compelling reason in itself to see this show.”

Theatre Weekly: “Theresa Rebeck’s Mad House is theatrical brilliance, a story we can all identify with, but beautifully told and elevated by complex characters.  And with such a remarkable cast, audiences should be queuing up to get into this particular mad house.”

British Theatre.com: ***** “Rebeck’s dialogue and exquisite plotting, and a cast relishing and revelling in the roles they are playing, delivers a majestic second act, among the finest work currently on in the West End.”

The Reviews Hub: **** 1/2 “Mad House perfectly captures the imperfect, complex family dynamic. The dark humour, realistically emotional storyline and top tier acting from the entire cast combine to create a must-see show.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Director Moritz Von Stuelpnagel holds the wildly divergent tonal shifts together as best he can, and the cast are never less than watchable but the overall impact is strangely muffled.”

The Stage: ** “David Harbour and Bill Pullman star in Theresa Rebeck’s offbeat black comedy at the Ambassadors Theatre.”

Mad House will play at the Ambassadors Theatre until the 4th September. You can book tickets here.


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