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The Father (MTC Broadway)

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Intelligent
83
Critics
76
43 reviews
Members
85
322 reviews
 

Manhattan Theatre Club presents the American premiere of a new play by Florian Zeller about an elderly man dealing with dementia; starring Frank Langella, who won his fourth Tony Award for this performance.

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A fascinating look inside the mind of André, a retired dancer living with his adult daughter Anne and her husband. Or is he a retired engineer receiving a visit from Anne who has moved away with her boyfriend? Why do strangers keep turning up in his room? And where has he left his watch? 'The Father' is an unguarded story about the cruelties of love and the limits of patience, and the way child-parent relationships become inverted as old age creeps up.

 

Cast & Creatives (13)



Reviews (365)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
76
Avg Score

90
The New York Times

"'The Father' offers one of the most disorienting experiences in town. Yet, as directed by Doug Hughes, this production exudes a cool clarity that borders on the clinical....Mr. Langella impressively played King Lear several years ago, but it’s here he nails the rage, pathos and cruelty behind that titanic part...Mr. Langella bravely makes sure that André remains an unsympathetic soul, even as his condition inspires an aching empathy." Full Review

60
New York Post

"A mediocre productions that the star single-handedly saves from the recycling bin...Langella is fairly restrained. This makes his performance all the more effective as we watch his character’s descent into dementia—from his point of view. Admittedly this is clever writing, but it also feels slick and at times borderline gimmicky. Nor does the rest of the cast give Langella the support he deserves." Full Review

80
Variety

"Zeller’s disturbing drama is a highly personal study of a proud old man’s inexorable mental deterioration that is easy to admire, but quite painful to watch...There’s no real drama to the basic structure of the play, just the ruthless forward movement of one man’s inevitable fate...Langella does a superb job of communicating the conflicted feelings of a man who can’t believe—and won’t accept—the changes in his life...Director Hughes handles the material with sensitivity." Full Review

85
Time Out New York

"The play keeps its audience in a continuous state of disorientation, smudging the lines between reality and misperception...Such theatrical tricks are central to the depiction of André’s crumbling state of mind—more than the dialogue or the characters, who are difficult to know very well. But this production has another special effect in the imposing form of Langella himself...'The Father' may not be deep, but its depiction of André is effective and sad." Full Review

70
Theatermania

"It's a smart, tricky, and ultimately heartbreaking look at the bewildering disorientation caused by aging, memory, and identity loss...While he has a tendency to veer into Master Thespian territory, Langella is quite extraordinary when he drops these histrionics to burrow into André's fragmented world...The rest of the cast is only adequate...Director Doug Hughes should shoulder most of the blame for the deficiencies in the performances, but they are also partly caused by the script." Full Review

65
New York Magazine / Vulture

"Langella gets so close to strip-mining the core of his gifts that you think he may cave in, or that you will. It’s a must-see performance. 'The Father,' though, is only a might-see play, more of a vehicle than a destination...The play defies logic at times...If 'The Father' gets only partway across the ocean on its own steam, Hughes has tugged it near to shore, and Langella docks it every night. What he does to the play is almost as pleasurable and improving as what he does to the audience." Full Review

85
The Huffington Post

"Langella at his best, yet again, and not to be missed...After all is said and done, you have Zeller’s provocative new play—already an international crowd-pleaser—and a monumental turn from the star. Hughes provides effective staging, but by this point in time one wonders whether directors have learned to simply step aside and watch Frank go." Full Review

80
The Guardian (UK)

"Langella responds to this dislocation with petulance, confusion, cruelty and anger...With the exception of a few unnecessary soliloquies, the dialogue is often powerful in its simplicity and Zeller effectively communicates a sense of existential horror lurking just below everyday chatter...Parts of the play can feel somewhat too pat...But the ending is both sentimental and searing and will probably devastate anyone who has seen a close friend or relative suffer from dementia." Full Review

70
DC Theatre Scene

"'The Father' cleverly employs the kind of effect perfected by absurdist playwrights, but this time for a specific, accessible purpose...Still, for all the freshness of the conceit and the cleverness of the construction, our interest flags whenever André is not on the stage...As in his Lear, Langella dominates...There is no character on Broadway now with whom we are made to feel more literal empathy." Full Review

90
Lighting & Sound America

"Zeller has found a simple yet stunning way of putting us in André's position as his ability to sort the imagined from the actual crumbles at a headlong pace. Langella's intensively detailed, utterly unsparing performance captures every hairpin turn of emotion...The seemingly self-assured older man is, step-by-step, reduced to the status of an elderly infant, in need of being held...This is a monumental performance, a modern Lear, a lion in winter no longer sure whom he is raging at, or why." Full Review

85
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Langella, 78, has always been a dominating actor, a throwback to those grand old-time stars of physical stature, vocal richness, heightened elocution, and elegant gestures. These attributes can sometimes make him seem theatrical, even hammy, if you will, but they work perfectly for André, even if he never was the dancer he claims to have been. Langella’s innate grandiosity only makes the pathos of André’s descent into infantile dependency that much more tragically moving." Full Review

65
The Hollywood Reporter

"As a visual metaphor for the advancing isolation of an unraveling mind surrendering to dementia, the staging is certainly eloquent. It's matched by the powerful work of Langella, conveying the painful freefall from eroding dignity into infantilized helplessness...But French playwright Florian Zeller's drama is a stubbornly unemotional experience, its approach too cerebral and distancing to achieve the shattering impact that the performances demand." Full Review

75
AM New York

"A jarring and intense drama that is told from the perspective of an 80-year-old man suffering from severe dementia...Doug Hughes’ focused production is built around an all-out, highly emotional performance from Langella that brings to mind King Lear’s extreme fall from security into chaos...'The Father' is not an enjoyable play by any stretch of the imagination. It leaves you feeling uncomfortable, roughed up and exposed. But it is a dramatically effective and culturally important one." Full Review

65
Talkin' Broadway

"Langella scales sweeping heights of magnetic stolidity and the depths of baby-like innocence, frequently at or near the same time...For how much it gets right about André, and for the vivid palette of possibilities it gives its director, it has no concrete existence of its own outside its attempts to drown you in a sea of befuddlement. Its story is adequate, but hardly captivating...There's very little here that hasn't been explored more fully in other places." Full Review

80
Front Row Center

"I cannot suggest you will enjoy 'The Father,' but I promise you, you will be moved—perhaps wounded…Watching a powerful patriarch brought low is a familiar piece of theater, but when Frank Langella takes the stage, we are in another dimension…One effect needs rethinking. Scene changes are fiercely disorienting—and yes, we get it—but it’s too much...It has long been fashionable to say that Shakespeare wrote all we need to know about dementia in 'King Lear.' Until now." Full Review

95
Times Square Chronicles

"This show is Mr. Langella’s. He makes us feel the gamut of emotions and when he is cruel, we feel the slice...This show is a must for anyone who is dealing with somebody with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is a heartbreaking picture inside their mind. Mr. Langella is definitely my pick and winner for Best Actor in a play. This play will also be on the list of Tony nominations for Best Play. Well deserved and well worth watching." Full Review

70
New York Daily News

"A slick but superficial new play...It’s a meaty dramatic gambit, though not ground-breaking...At its best, Zeller’s writing is crisp, darkly humorous and emits a hushed Pinteresque chill. On the down side, the play is so sterile it sidesteps the mess that comes with mental deterioration...Fortunately, though, Langella is forever intriguing." Full Review

70
Deadline

"I don’t think Alzheimer’s has lost its shock value, especially to a generation dealing with it head-on. But Doug Hughes’ production, with one notable exception, seems slight at 90 intermissionless minutes. The exception, of course, is Langella, giving another master class in felt performance as André regresses — devolves, really — from strong-willed fighter to whimpering babe...It’s a performance of surpassing empathy, and sadness." Full Review

75
CurtainUp

"If you appreciate what a masterful actor can do with a difficult part, you won't want to miss 'The Father' because Langella is on stage for most of its 90 minutes. Is Zeller's play as unmissable? Not quite so much...Though Langella and this production pretty much justify all the hype, the twilight zone setup tends to be be as confusing as it is clever. Consequently, you may leave the theater full of admiration for the acting and staging, but without having being really pulled all the way in." Full Review

90
Theatre Reviews Limited

"Under Doug Hughes’ exacting and brilliant direction, the ensemble cast successfully creates a pantheon of characters that, depending on one’s point of view, are real or unreal...Frank Langella’s performance as André is mesmerizing. He slowly peels away the layers of an insidious disease with a remarkable tenderness and vulnerability...Mr. Zeller constructs a fascinating puzzle for the audience to decipher." Full Review

100
Front Mezz Junkies

"It’s a smart and powerful piece of writing that is both surprising, funny at times, and deeply moving. Langella does a masterful job with this complex and unique role, holding back nothing, and giving it his all...The rest of the cast do a wonderful job...This MTC production is beautifully crafted, designed with great attention to detail and meaning...The direction of this cast by Doug Hughes is perfection...Unforgettable." Full Review

95
TheaterScene.net

“Langella turns in a virtuoso performance. You may be confused, you may be shocked, you may disturbed, but you won’t be bored for a moment...In the hands of a consummate artist like Langella, the play is terrifying...Although the rest of the cast of six have nothing as momentous as Langella’s role, they acquit themselves well...Director Doug Hughes has piloted the play with a sure hand, keeping everything as minimalist as the text which resembles Pinter crossed with Ionesco.” Full Review

60
Newsday

"How I wish I could say that Florian Zeller’s play lived up to the depths of its worthy ambition — much less to Langella’s silken heartbreak of a performance...All the other characters just feel like two-dimensional props for Langella’s performance. Hughes uses a flash of glaring light between scenes. The effect becomes more irritating than theatrical in a play that, for all its big intentions, never really touches the indignities and profundity of self-loss." Full Review

75
Bob's Theater Blog

"His performance was better than the material. Zeller cleverly presents things from the confused point of view of the person with dementia...There’s more than a touch of Pinter lurking here...Doug Hughes’s direction is assured. Multiple short scenes are punctuated by flashing lights around the proscenium and loud strings, which becomes tiresome rather quickly. Go for the bravura performance by Langella and you won’t be disappointed." Full Review

70
The Wrap

"The beauty and horror of seeing Florian Zeller’s play is that we’re taken inside the head of a man who’s losing his mind...Zeller has underwritten the supporting characters, and director Hughes is wise to keep those performances very understated...Zeller tells his story from Andre’s viewpoint, so it is bewildering — and not in a good way — when the playwright includes scenes that have the daughter conversing with other characters in Andre’s absence." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
85
Avg Score

88
Great acting

See it if you're a fan of Frank Langella or have a family member or friend suffering from dementia.

Don't see it if you hate plays.

93
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Resonant, Great staging

See it if you want to vicariously & vicerally feel what's is like for the elderly suffering w/ progressive dementia. Tender, bemusing, & frightening.

Don't see it if you want light & fluffy fare that does not dabble in elder abuse.

Also Frank. Langella. In a Tony winning performance. This is a play that re... Read more Read less

65
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you're interested in plays about memory, Alzheimers, and the perception of time/reality.

Don't see it if issues surrounding memory/Alzheimer's are upsetting to you.

Also I saw a version of this in London as well, and liked the directorial c... Read more Read less

100
Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Must see, Great writing

See it if You want to see a unique and powerful show with masterful acting. You want to see the great Frank Langella do what he does best.

Don't see it if You do not like drama. You are only interested in linear shows that are easy to follow.

79
Clever, Intelligent, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if you know someone who's loosing their mental powers. It may help you understand their perspective.

Don't see it if you're expecting a showy performance or a story told in a linear manner.

88
Absorbing, Clever, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if you know anyone who has struggled with Alzheimer's disease or dimensia, and would like some reference as to how they experience the world.

Don't see it if you find yourself confused by frequent changes in perspective or by slightly stilted-sounding dialogue.

83
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want something thought provoking on broadway. I normally don't like stuff on Broadway but this was very good.

Don't see it if If you get sad but a touchy subject. The staging was incredible.

83
Original, Great acting, Intense, Interesting

See it if you are interested in aging issues and would enjoy an experiencial understanding of Alzheimer disease.

Don't see it if you prefer sequential and easy to follow stories.

93
Dizzying, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you like Frank Langella, can't resist a real acting tour de force, and don't mind entering the mind of someone with dementia

Don't see it if you would be upset by a frank, realistic and fairly terrifying portrayal of dementia as it progresses; or if you are easily confused

70
Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you want to see a brilliant performance by Frank Langella.

Don't see it if dementia hits too close to home.

80
Great acting, Masterful, Riveting, Great writing, Confusing

See it if you want to see a story about a population that is often underrepresented in the theatre. Masterful performances are everywhere

Don't see it if you need a linear plot that you can easily follow or prefer lighter fare

75
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if you want to see a fantastic performance by Langella, and an interesting play that puts you inside the experience of a man with dementia.

Don't see it if you're not prepared for an intense and painful drama.

87
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Must see, Great staging

See it if Unfortunately, Frank Langella was ill when I saw it but that was the only disappointment. His understudy was great. Truly great staging.

Don't see it if You have epilepsy. Strobe lights were a bit much.

82
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Heart-breaking

See it if you are compelled by strong performances that draw you inside the mind of a character in the way that only theater can.

Don't see it if you do not want to watch -- or cannot handle watching -- a portrait of someone losing themselves or if you dislike unreliable narrators.

77
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if You want to see a mesmerizing performance by Frank Langella, who quite frankly, is far better than the material itself.

Don't see it if The translation from French by a Brit playwright for an American audience leaves you a bit bewildered and bothered, but not bewitched.

70
Great acting, Disappointing, Predictable, Great staging, Dull

See it if You love Frank Langella, who is fantastic, and don't mind a slightly banal, somewhat overrated alzheimer's story. A demented memory play.

Don't see it if You are tired of Alzheimer's stories and get confused by non-linear storytelling. You find stories about downward spirals to be a downer.

92
Absorbing, Intense, Masterful, Profound, Riveting

See it if you like a well-written, profound play about life and memory; if you want to see what a deserving, Tony-winning performance looks like

Don't see it if you're in the mood for something light; if you tend to like linear, clearly defined stories

88
Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Intentionally disorienting

See it if you like a play that could only have been told this way through this medium. The performances, not just from Langella, were compelling.

Don't see it if you need all the pieces to fit together as you watch. Also, watching the deterioration of a man through his own perspective is very hard.

66
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Interesting, Heavy

See it if you want to see the incredibly talented Frank Langella take on a very interesting role.

Don't see it if you have difficulty watching stories about people with dementia.

75
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Slow

See it if you want to see a great performance by one of the greatest stage actors ever.

Don't see it if you expect something well-written/insightful. There are some good themes, but it isn't what it could be.

80
Absorbing, Confusing

See it if You enjoy thought provoking drama

Don't see it if You are easily confused watching a current/flashback mixture in a story

60
Depressing, Clever, Dizzying, Great acting, Intense

See it if you want to see a well acted play about dementia and the effects it has on the individual and their family members.

Don't see it if dementia is something that will deeply upset you to see acted out.

73
Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Indulgent

See it if you want to see a stellar performance.

Don't see it if you need a truly great play to go around that performance, rather than something that's just above average.

84
Clever and visceral theater experience

See it if Plot presented/sequenced so the audience viscerally experiences the confusion and frustration of someone with a mentallydegenerative disease

Don't see it if Once I realized that my early confusion was intentionally engineered & was informing the message/plot I was witnessing-- I really enjoyed it

53
Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You like to tell people that you saw a serious Broadway play that the critics ate up. OR - if you just can't get enough of Alzheimer's plays

Don't see it if You're not satisfied with a one-trick-pony show or with seeing one worthwhile performance and need some plot or at least good dialogue.