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The Father (MTC Broadway)

From 43 critic and 325 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Intelligent

About the show

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. More…

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.

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

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


“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

Act Three - The Reviews

"There is brilliance in Mr. Langella's performance, but perhaps more importantly there is brilliance in Doug Hughes' direction of Mr. Zeller's work. The vignette blackouts, the shocking strobe light, the stark lights up on the next, often conflicting scene - all effects that heighten the impact of the material...Mr. Langella does most of the heavy lifting here, and his performance is transcendent. This is one play you won't soon forget." Full Review

Plays to See

"This should be required viewing for all human beings...Through Frank Langella’s brave, masterful performance, we experience the dislocation, indignity, and sense of abandonment, ultimately by reality itself, that comes with the onset of this all-too-common disease in our era of extended years...This is realism of an entirely different kind. Langella’s unforgettable performance is one of the best I’ve ever witnessed." Full Review

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

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

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


"At 78, Langella not only holds the stage he owns it. And when you’re not hanging on his every line and gesture, you may stop for a moment to try and study how he does it. But don't bother because his performances are seamless and when he slips into a role, the actor evaporates leaving no trace...Under Doug Hughes taut direction, the emotional toll builds to a devastating conclusion." Full Review

Our Theater Blog

"'The Father' is a very good play, but Langella’s performance makes it a great one. In one moment, his André is endearing, in the next unsettled, then intimidating...Doug Hughes has directed this flawless cast so that we, the audience, internalize the emotions that André feels in 'The Father'. Langella’s striking portrayal could so easily slip into overwrought melodrama, but Langella keeps André genuine and real." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Zeller’s play has an unnerving way of putting the audience in the mind of its central character...Director Dough Hughes resists sentimentality by keeping the staging lean and purposeful...But the second main reason to see 'The Father' is to experience Langella in the title role. The three-time Tony Award winner delivers a master class in character development. Reminding us that we are a myriad of experiences and emotions, he effortlessly vacillates between moments." Full Review

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

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

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

Broad Street Review

"Under Doug Hughes’s meticulous direction, we feel trapped together with André inside Scott Pask’s severe set, a frightening landscape that constantly changes before our eyes as the play draws to its inexorable conclusion. As one who has watched a close relative suffer the indignities of dementia, I found this powerful but merciless play devastating in its impact." Full Review


"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

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

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

The Wall Street Journal

"Each scene undermines what had been taken for granted before. We become disoriented, baffled, unable to identify the past or even the present...The dismantling of dramatic reality treats dementia as an intellectual process, not as an emotional one. But Mr. Langella corrects the balance. We cannot help but be caught up in his suspicion, first when he believes 'there is something funny going on,' and finally, searingly, when it isn’t even clear to him to whom it has all been happening." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Though far from uplifting, 'The Father' is a refreshing addition to the current Broadway scene—a one-set, low-fi, actor-driven exploration of an uncomfortable human truth...As Baby Boomers grow older and their children come of age, both groups will increasingly look to art for some means of coping. Using innovative storytelling to touch on familiar themes, Zeller has has endeavored to give them just that." Full Review


"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

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

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

DC Metro Theater Arts

"The device the author and director Doug Hughes have chosen to present this difficult material to us is elevated by the superb work of Frank Langella. The material itself is somewhat inconsistent in that the supporting characters are not nearly as interesting...As this play is conceived from the father’s point of view, it is in the end saved by the richness of Mr. Langella’s work...The final moments are as moving and heartbreaking as the old gent." Full Review

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

Great acting, Masterful, Thought-provoking

See it if want to see an actor in the role of a lifetime!

Don't see it if don't like sad emotional plays

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Resonant

See it if Frank Langella brings the audience to tears from his outstanding performance as a father who is slowly losing himself.

Don't see it if If you do not enjoy pure, authentic and truthful acting. Or cannot face the truths of reality.

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

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.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Funny

See it if If you have someone near you aging or with Alzheimer If you want to see a great performance

Don't see it if If you are not interested in finding out about aging

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Must see

See it if You would like to expand your insight on the illness of dementia and witness some of the finest acting ever!

Don't see it if You don't like bright flashing lights - they are used like synapses firing for most scene changes

Frightening, Spellbinding, Great acting, Absorbing, Exquisite

See it if You are sufficiently courageous to follow the disintegration of a mind descending into the depths of altzheimers before your very eyes.

Don't see it if You are not capable of bearing the heaviest of dramas with Frank Langella giving what must be the performance of a lifetime.

Also An evening on which you embark on an exploratory path that could happe... Read more Read less

Great acting, Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if You know someone with Alzheimers, you want to see masterful storytelling and incredible acting.

Don't see it if You get upset by uncomfortable themes.

Ambitious, Great acting, Absorbing, Masterful, Must see

See it if Appreciate great acting

Don't see it if You don't want to be depressed

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if You want to see a master on stage telling a intelligently written play. I could see this multiple times and consistently find new value.

Don't see it if You want to see something happy or cheery.

Absorbing, Clever, Riveting, Original, Great acting

See it if you'd like to venture into the mind of a man with dementia performed painfully well by Frank Langella.

Don't see it if that subject might be too intense for you. The moments are very real and could be triggers.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you love great theatre.

Don't see it if there's no reason not to see it.

Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You like pieces that put you in the head of someone with dementia - like Curious Incident it lets one experience this From this perspective

Don't see it if You like fluffy theatre tHat is easily followed without any concentration

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Must see

See it if You want to witness exquisite acting by Frank Langella, see a dazzling tour de force performance by him, develop compassion for others.

Don't see it if You want a straightforward play that won't demand anything from you.

Absorbing, Masterful, Must see, Original, Relevant

See it if You love great acting. Frank Langella certainly delivers in spades. Also, thought provoking, relevant dramas!

Don't see it if You're not a fan of plays or don't like upsetting plays.

Thought-provoking, Profound, Must see, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you like a deep and clever play with exquisite acting, if you like to go out of the theatre thinking

Don't see it if you don´t like deep plays, or if you don´t like theatre at all

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Masterful, Intense

See it if You want a thought provoking, intense drama and incredible performances.

Don't see it if You are looking for laughs.

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Thought-provoking, Incredible

See it if You have a loved one or friend suffering with dementia and want to experience the inside of the mind of that person. It is a brilliant play!

Don't see it if You dislike non linear plays

Great acting, Great writing, Profound

See it if Because Frank Langella's performance is astonishing

Don't see it if If you are looking for easy and light entertainment

Absorbing, Clever, Ambitious, Great acting, Epic

See it if You appreciate good acting and want to change the way you think about a debilitating condition that is difficult to understand.

Don't see it if You do not wish to be challenged intellectually at a theater.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting, Masterful

See it if you want to see acting at its finest. Frank Langella owns the stage in this timely look at growing older.

Don't see it if you can't handle what happens to some people as they enter their twilight years

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

See it if You like the genius acting of Frank Langella and his peers. This is a wonderful intriguing play and thought provoking.

Don't see it if You don't want to think or be sad.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if Your a fan Frank l. and enjoy well crafted plays.

Don't see it if Your looking for light entertainment.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Excruciating

See it if you want an evening of great theatre, superb acting, moving script. This is a master class in acting. Langella is a gift to all of us.

Don't see it if You want a light hearted musical! This is theatre at its finest.

Exquisite, Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Intelligent

See it if You want to see the greatest stage actor of our time in one more bravura performance by him in a very intelligent and moving play

Don't see it if You can't deal with plays about dementia

Gripping, Thought-provoking, Original, Resonant, Masterful

See it if you have a strong reaction to parental relationships. This is a look at dementia through the eyes of the victim unlike any I've ever seen.

Don't see it if you're going alone and aren't prepared to be moved. Very stark and tugs at the heartstrings.

Cast & Creatives (13)