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The Father (MTC Broadway)
Midtown W
85

The Father (MTC Broadway) NYC Reviews and Tickets

85%
(325 Reviews)
Positive
92%
Mixed
7%
Negative
1%
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.

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Member Reviews (325)

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86
Absorbing, Intelligent, Original, Relevant

See it if You're a Frank Langella fan. He never disappoints.

Don't see it if You just can't stand one more show about Alzheimer's/Dementia.

85
Dizzying, Great acting, Edgy, Epic, Great writing

See it if Frank Langella is epic, great actor here. The plot keeps you moving, great direction, staging. The play is engrossing from beginning to end

Don't see it if If you don't like deep theater with a deep story.

Critic Reviews (43)

April 14th, 2016

"'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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 27th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"Florian Zeller’s gimmicky disease play about aging and dementia...That the one dimension is inhabited so robustly by Frank Langella is the sole element elevating the piece above the desolately routine. But his presence is not nearly enough to overcome the playwright’s overly obvious conceits...As a demonstration of how Alzheimer’s runs its course, Hughes’s production has some merit...However, 'The Father' is mundane."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 15th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 15th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 18th, 2016

“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.”
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April 19th, 2016

"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."
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April 16th, 2016

"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."
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April 18th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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T
April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 15th, 2016

"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."
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April 17th, 2016

"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."
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April 16th, 2016

"'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."
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April 16th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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B
April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 15th, 2016

"A fairly clever but chilly drama...Langella has a juicy role in André...But even the masterful Langella has difficulty making André’s dementia emotionally vivid, in a play written, directed (by Doug Hughes) and acted in a restrained, formalistic style...At the very end, Zeller tries to capture the agony of dementia. The play’s final image is striking, but the emotion seems an add-on, not something emerging naturally from the story we’ve seen."
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April 15th, 2016

"Langella pivots skilfully between Lear-like torment and a lighter comic register...Though never less than affecting, the play itself feels a little neat, however. Once we’ve twigged what’s going on, 'The Father' doesn’t offer any further puzzles or surprises...Zeller has written a well-made play on a universally significant subject that stops short of following its protagonist into the darkest corners of mental breakdown."
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April 14th, 2016

"Langella’s mercurial performance surely will be relatable to any audience member who has spent time around a person with dementia...Much of 'The Father' is a delusion, and so we work to form our own conclusions about what's real or not, even as André’s shifting reality guides us toward a foreshadowed ending. This is an intricately constructed drama depicting a phenomenon few can identify with—what it must be like to be a capable person slowly losing his mind."
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April 16th, 2016

"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."
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April 18th, 2016

“The play has a lot of short scenes punctuated by blinding flashes of light...I found that approach a tad irksome, and though the play is initially innovative and is touching throughout...it becomes a slow march...The best asset is Langella, who’s commanding and moving (except for a couple of semi- whimsical moments that I felt could have been better directed). He’s such a gem, you can definitely set your watch to him.”
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T
April 18th, 2016

"There’s one towering reason to see 'The Father.' And that’s Frank Langella...Without Langella's nuanced performance, ‘The Father’ would be just another drama in the ever-growing field of Alzheimer stories...Zeller’s mixture of absurdity and reality is certainly a mainstay of French theater. But the suffering of individuals living with Alzheimer’s and those who love them does not seem to fit well with existential drama or its critical observations of society.”
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April 19th, 2016

"Manhattan Theatre Club’s production is all about André, more specifically all about Frank Langella, who plays the title role, who, more specifically, overacts the title role...The play could use some simple adaptation to an American stage...I’m familiar with aging and mental decline. I wanted to be moved, but wasn’t. Even André’s pathetic, lonely lament 'I want my mommy' sounded trite, and played like cheap sentiment. That’s not credible drama."
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April 14th, 2016

"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."
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April 24th, 2016

"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."
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April 15th, 2016

"It's a scary, fractured ride, and also one that, despite two first-rate performances, becomes somewhat wearisome...'The Father' initially intrigues, but as it moves forward, Zeller's strategy to disorient while also evincing André's mental decline becomes increasingly gimmicky...There's an indubitable pull to the material and the performances, but one can't help but wish that it had been offered up in a less distancing manner."
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April 18th, 2016

"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."
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April 29th, 2016

"'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."
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E
April 21st, 2016

"Langella interprets and expresses André’s character with the precision of an actor of his stature. Always taking up the whole stage, Langella brings into his performance a depth that infects other cast members…Dark and at times humorous, the play was a long 90 minutes. While a great mental exercise to follow, Langella’s journey out of his flat and into a hospital was not perfectly riveting. However, seeing Langella light up the stage was well worth the journey."
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