We take a look at what critics have had to say about Ivo van Hove’s adaptation now playing at the Young Vic Theatre.

(c) Jan Versweyveld

The Guardian: **** “Director Ivo van Hove elicits a performance of captivating intensity from Kesting. He addresses the invisible father but also slips into playing him. The transformation between the laconic gruffness of the father and the pain and anger of the son is penetrating and precise. The father occasionally shuffles to a door to smoke and his hunched figure, spluttering and bent, is a shattering image.”

Evening Standard: **** “Kesting’s brilliantly physical performance constantly proves this play’s central idea: that politics is an abstract game for the wealthy, but causes bodily suffering to the working class. It’s often painful to watch. But Van Hove’s production is teasingly affectionate as well as bleak: a mesmerising elegy for a man who refuses to die just yet.”

The Arts Desk: **** “Kesting delivers Louis’s text – adjusted slightly for performance – in English and with a ferocious directness, a galvanising clarity. While he primarily portrays Louis himself, speaking in his voice, he also embodies a range of characters featured in this dissection of his past, especially his father, whose absent figure Louis keeps addressing for much of the piece.”  

West End Best Friend: **** “While this production may not be overly enjoyable, it certainly is an exceptional performance, one that audiences should not miss out on the chance to see.”

Time Out: **** “It’s a small-scale production by Van Hove’s standards, but Hans Kesting is all you need to fill a room, and there’s some beautiful setpieces in there. Van Hove’s productions have always heavily featured music, but usually baby boomer-ish rock.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “In what comes close to being an astonishing coup de théâtre, van Hove switches tracks and turns a play that had been intimate and inward-looking into a forceful political diatribe against the suppression of the French working class. The darkness is lifted and Kesting’s demeanour changes as an introspective soul searcher becomes a public orator. The writer/director’s skill in pulling off this transformation inspires awe.”

The Upcoming: **** “It takes an actor of exceptionally high calibre to carry a production such as this, and Kesting delivers. The lengthy standing ovations on press night are more than deserved. The actor has a great deal to do and a great many lines to remember, and he does it alone on a sparse and simple set – only a TV on the floor and a bed join him on stage, leaving the writing and the performance to engage the audience for 90 minutes straight.”

London Theatre.co.uk: *** “Kesting charges through regardless, taking the audience with him in a performance that is fiery yet fragile, intimate yet charged with the outsized power of something epic. At the curtain call, the open-faced actor looked moved by the engagement of the house on that most extraordinary of all nights as we emerged into a changed world in which life, for once, seemed considerably more dramatic than art.”

The Stage: **** “Hans Kesting stars in Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of Édouard Louis’ third novel.”

Culture Whisper: *** “a bitter and affecting look at the relationship between father and son, masculinity and homophobia, the working class and the ruling elite. But most importantly, it acknowledges the ways in which we must develop coalitions in order to enact change. The father speaks for the first time at the end of the play, and, for the first time, is in political agreement with his son: ‘We need a revolution’.”

The Times: *** ” Ivo van Hove’s production for the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam draws a bravura performance from Hans Kesting, who prowls a grey, cell-like chamber.”

The Telegraph: **** “Ivo van Hove’s one-man adaptation of Édouard Louis’s memoir is timely, beautifully acted – and exactly the thing for turbulent times.”

Who Killed My Father continues to play at the Young Vic Theatre until the 24th September.