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Of Human Bondage

138 Members say: Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Ambitious, Masterful
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About the show

Canada's Soulpepper Theatre Company presents the first-ever theatrical adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's 1915 epic of lustful obsession and the pursuit of happiness. More…

'Of Human Bondage' tells the story of Philip Carey, clubfooted and of limited means, who's torn between being a doctor and an artist. When he meets tea shop girl Mildred, he quickly becomes obsessed with her. Despite her treating him badly, he turns down more promising relationships and endures a series of calamities. Part of the Soulpepper on 42nd Street festival.


100
Carole Di Tosti

"Breathtaking...A tour de force that encapsulates the seminal themes of the novel…How Thiessen, Schultz, the transcendent cast, and others crystallized the novel’s essence and distilled its characters and story into the magnificence that is currently playing is most probably a fascinating story in itself…What hath the director Albert Schultz wrought? In a word? Majesty. I can’t sing this production’s praises enough…This production is gobsmackingly singular.” Full Review

95
Times Square Chronicles

"There are times that magic happens in theatre. 'Of Human Bondage' is one of them...Thiessen’s adaptation allows those of us who have read the novel to appreciate its depth and beauty. Schultz’s staging is relentlessly inventive...The whole show is a total sensory experience, with inspired set and lighting design, hauntingly beautiful music, and vocal effects that will blow you away...If you love theatre, you must see this amazing production." Full Review

95
Talkin' Broadway

"Thiessen's adaptation of 'Of Human Bondage' may accentuate the melodramatic nature of the plot, but the acting, directing, and the production itself make for a positively exhilarating theatrical experience and a stellar entry to the Soulpepper on 42nd festival...Under Albert Schultz's direction, the cast as a whole is nigh unto perfect, operating as a tight-knit ensemble that brings to mind the glory days of the epic Dickensian productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company.” Full Review

95
DC Metro Theater Arts

“Ingenious in its staging, compelling in its message, and impeccable in its delivery...It is immediately apparent that we are in for one inventive and riveting show…The entire cast succeeds in distinguishing the array of archetypal personalities…Soulpepper’s superb re-envisioning of Maugham’s masterpiece is an impressive summer treat, a fully integrated and thoroughly captivating example of the best of experimental theater.” Full Review

91
Front Mezz Junkies

"A deeply rewarding piece of theatrical art making...An ingenious retelling of Maugham’s classic tale, one that is far removed from other interpretations...The company of artists at Soulpepper have created a unique and thrilling production that has only expanded the relatable by stripping the narrative down to its essentials by using every theatrical trick at their disposal. It’s a strikingly modern affair that is unforgettable and exactly what theatre should be." Full Review

90
The New York Times

“Beautiful and bittersweet…Mr. Prest balances his darkly fascinating character’s mania with an underlying sense of goodness…Stuart Hughes and Sarah Wilson excel in the choicest supporting roles…At its best — and in this show, that’s often — ‘Of Human Bondage’ also manages to ask a few questions about art and ambition. But at its core, Maugham’s story is a call for compassion for ourselves, and a plea for forgiveness for the mistakes of our youth…An exceptionally empathetic production.” Full Review

90
Theater Pizzazz

“A splendid, remarkably collaborative effort. Vern Thiessen’s superb adaptation is brought to fruition by the innovative designs working hand in glove with director Albert Schultz…The stagecraft alone would make it worth a visit….Philip is heroically played by Gregory Prest. This is indeed a bravura performance. Mildred is beautifully portrayed by Michelle Monteith...Maugham fans can rejoice! Soulpepper pulls it off. This is glorious theater.” Full Review

85
CurtainUp

"Thiessen's adaptation is still essentially a soap opera-ish tale of tortured unrequited love...It's nevertheless an edgy, very modern theatrical work. Credit Schultz, his inventive designers and the extremely versatile 12-member ensemble for mounting one of the most exciting adaptations of a century-old book...Ultimately everything adds up to lots of good choices by everyone...Consequently, you would be making a pretty smart choice yourself if you put it on your must-see list." Full Review

85
Gotham Playgoer

"It held my interest for its creative storytelling, innovate staging and fine cast...Press and Monteith are both very good. The other ten hardworking cast members play multiple roles adroitly...The direction by Albert Schultz provides many creative touches. To describe them would eliminate the surprise, so I won’t say more. The pace is a bit slow in the first act, but picks up after intermission. Overall, it was a worthwhile evening." Full Review

85
Deadline

"Thiessen and Schultz, as director, wisely steer clear of brooding moodiness and go instead for a more stylized representation of Maugham’s tale...The approach makes delicate work of a dark tale with echoes of social commentary that recall 'The Elephant Man,' though 'Of Human Bondage' stands very much on its own merits." Full Review

85
Time Out New York

"It is wise of director Schultz to take a stylized approach to Thiessen’s dramatic adaptation...Although there are only 12 people in the cast, they embody many more characters than that, simply by changing their accents...Yet their performances are grounded firmly in reality, so the play remains emotionally engaging...Despite its necessary compression, this account of 'Of Human Bondage' does justice to one of the most intense she’s-just-not-that-into-you sagas ever written." Full Review

70
TheaterScene.net

"While the power of W. Somerset Maugham's legendary story is still much in evidence, Soulpepper's elaborate staging for 'Of Human Bondage' dilutes its effectiveness. Lacking in sexual heat, what the stage performance may do is send you back to the original novel, not a bad thing." Full Review

45
Theatre Reviews Limited

"Both blazoned with success and tempered by the temptation of pretense and over-production...Thiessen has created a splendid retelling of Maugham’s novel...What falls short is the staging itself. Schultz has assembled a talented cast and creative team; however, some of his choices seem to detract from the action of the play...Also falling short are some of the performances...Choices made by the creative team inadvertently collude to lessen the potential power of this staging." Full Review

95
On Stage Blog

for a previous production “A near flawless and stunning presentation of a play that captures and focuses our attention to the dynamic energy on stage after a momentary slow start. Get to see this one before it closes as you will witness true craft performance by twelve artists at their best…Our hearts continually break for Gregory Prest as central character Philip…This 2017 production has had its polishing and is an astonishing production. Make sure you see this one before it closes.” Full Review

95
Post City Toronto

for a previous production “‘Of Human Bondage’ scores on every level and from all angles…Prest and Monteith are pitch-perfect...All other actors play multiple roles, each worthy of separate praise...The characters have such depth you forget there are actors inside them…The staging is astonishing but so integrated that it offers no distraction...Indeed so much is being done with such economy it is hard to know on whom to lavish praise…A rich and beautifully rendered story that you don’t want to miss.” Full Review

95
Mooney On Theatre

for a previous production “It’s a beautiful production. Everything works together: the cast, the direction, the set, the lighting, the sound and music…Brilliant direction by Albert Schultz…Even though the novel was written more than a hundred years ago the story is still relevant and recognizable...It’s beautiful, evocative and imaginative. Really amazing theatre.” Full Review

90
Toronto Stage.Com

for a previous production “Richly layered and pleasantly entertaining…A strikingly beautiful adaptation…A poignant conclusion suggesting that we are all living pieces of art with elements of hurt and pain simply adding color to the canvas is about as heartwarming as it gets. Thankfully director Albert Schultz takes nothing for granted in this deeply moving story...Never before has the company ventured into meticulous design territory like this.” Full Review

85
Stage Door

for a previous production “A rare thing – a fine stage adaptation of a complex novel…While Thiessen has provided a concise, insightful text, what takes this production out of the ordinary is Albert Schultz’s remarkable direction…Schultz’s experimental approach reaps enormous benefits not only by showcasing the versatility of his cast but by transforming a narrative into a visually exciting, consistently imaginative theatrical experience." Full Review

85
The Globe and Mail

for a previous production “A flowing and eerily gorgeous production…If ‘Of Human Bondage’ occasionally seems no more than melodrama, you can place some of that blame on the book’s original author…But, in Thiessen’s adaptation, Maugham’s characters are occasionally gratuitously flattened as the narrative is necessarily telescoped…Schultz’s musical production is such a pleasure, however, it’s easy to overlook the flaws in the story or storytelling.” Full Review

80
Now Toronto

for a previous production “A fine adaptation…The production stumbles a bit, for while we get a strong sense of the medical people in his life, the artistic side isn't as well fleshed out. But that's a minor problem in the play's rich world, with Prest an engaging figure…I wish that Duffy had more to do, but she makes an impression in a brief appearance as a stage diva who changes Philip's life…Mike Ross's soundscape is, as usual, creative and just right.” Full Review

80
The Star

for a previous production “The evening grows considerably richer as the story expands in scope in the second half, and the cumulative effects of Schultz’s virtuosic staging and the cast’s excellent ensemble playing add up to something quite satisfying…The first act comes across overall like a bodice-ripper. An exceedingly well-staged bodice-ripper…Thiessen’s adaptation and Schultz’s staging consistently forge a clear narrative path even as the bravura acting company doubles and triples up on roles.” Full Review

75
The Star

for a previous production “The long and complex novel has been brought to the stage with imagination and daring by director Albert Schultz and his gifted team of artists. Much of what they do is simply wonderful, but there are elements about it that seriously need to be addressed…It’s a mostly exhilarating journey until intermission, but the second half doesn’t quite live up to the rest…And while there are many wonderful performances from the cast, there are a few that damage things seriously." Full Review

60
National Post

for a previous production “It’s decades since I read the book, but I wouldn’t doubt that Thiessen’s dramatization is the best and cleverest possible. It still isn’t tightly wound enough to be a play. That isn’t a condemnation (‘Of Human Bondage’ makes a better evening than many plays) but it does indicate a frustration. Philip’s story never comes to a point…There’s no definite climax: something a novel can do without but a play can’t...The various supporting characters remain shadowy. They are also unevenly acted." Full Review


100
Absorbing, Ambitious, Enchanting, Great acting, Masterful

See it if You would enjoy an innovative way of presenting a classical tale. While superficially this period piece remains in the period - stage (cont)

Don't see it if You only enjoy Broadway style productions.

Also (cont from above) design and sound/music are innovative and create a m... Read more Read less

100
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Masterful, Must see

See it if you’ve asked why people go to the theater vs movies/tv. This is THE show that best exemplifies what can only be achieved in live performance

Don't see it if You're not fluent in English. You want a light comedy. Otherwise, if you have a choice between Human Bondage and any other ticket, pick OHB

Also Theater, as an artform, is full of limitations—limited stage space, li... Read more Read less

100
Exquisite, Masterful, Must see, Great writing, Great staging

See it if An extraordinarily conceived, directed & acted classic. The best show I've seen in NY since 'Brief Encounter '.

Don't see it if You're expecting fluff.

Also This is theater. The entire production was a triumph. A great novel ca... Read more Read less

100
Absorbing, Clever, Epic, Great acting, Masterful

See it if you happen to feel disenchanted by theatre. This production will restore your faith. The creativity, performances, and writing are superb.

Don't see it if you don't care for epic stories or are in the mood for something light and mind-numbing. But really, you should see this.

Also This production employs my favorite sort of creativity, what I call "p... Read more Read less

100
Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great staging

See it if you appreciate a great story, beautifully told by an amazing group of actors, with limited sets and dazzling simple special effects.

Don't see it if You can't stand ensemble work, beautiful staging with limited sets and costumes

96
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if Great acting and staging

Don't see it if you don't like dramas

96
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Must see, Great staging

See it if you want to see smartly-written, cleverly-staged, shrewdly-acted, well-paced melodrama; to discover a great (hidden) Canadian treasure.

Don't see it if you have no heart or no interest in theatre.

Also Admittedly, I am only vaguely familiar with the Maugham novel upon whi... Read more Read less

96
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You want exquisite staging, masterful acting, great adaptation of a thoughtful book. An excellent theatrical experience.

Don't see it if You hate great theater and only like musical comedy.

95
Epic, Exquisite, Masterful, Profound, Touching

See it if Wonderful characters and themes. Starts from a student's romance and career struggles and ends with the forgiveness of human weaknesses.

Don't see it if It's a bit repetitive and preachy in spots, with predictable outcomes.

95
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if you are interested in new manners of storytelling. Great staging, lighting and sound creation in this production.

Don't see it if no reason. If you can not see this, see another Soulpepper production before they go back to Canada.

95
Intelligent, Must see, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You have time before the July 28 close. The staging is wonderful. The sound effects will delight your ears. Even scene changes are a dance

Don't see it if A somber story about love and obsession and betrayal are not for you. Also it is set in the past and the accents are British.

Also I loved this. There was a talk back afterwards with the director from ... Read more Read less

95
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Entertaining

See it if 12 great actors.. wonderful music background, lighting super...book had to made into a play.

Don't see it if score is by a 100/90 duo. only negative is that the talkback did not also include the cast. Director was super (cast had Spoon River to do)

95
Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Riveting, Great staging

See it if You enjoy a well directed, well acted, cleverly staged, and interesting adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage.

Don't see it if You are not interested in older literature. I have only praise for this production!

94
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Great staging

See it if You enjoy a triumph of superior stagecraft and brilliant ensemble acting

Don't see it if You want light frivolous laughter

93
Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you're excited by unique staging, if you're interested in the human condition or if you're familiar with the book.

Don't see it if you want a light comedy, if you dislike dark content or if you don't like seeing people make bad choices.

93
Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting

See it if You like dramatic plays based on classic novels with wonderful acting. The Canadian company, new to me, is extraordinary.

Don't see it if You prefer light comedies or musicals. This is not intended for "tired businessmen".

93
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great staging, Great ensemble

See it if fine ensemble work interests you. Actors slide between roles, play instruments & create aural aspects of each scene like rain birds & crowds

Don't see it if life's injustices disturb you. There is a lot to think about here.

93
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if excellent production, wonderful acting, Absorbing classic..

Don't see it if you are looking for "light" entertainment and feel good story...

92
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want a well-written adaptation of a classic performed by a wonderful ensemble who also play instruments for music & sound effects

Don't see it if you don't want adaptations of older works, actors playing multiple roles including playing instruments & moving props

Also This was so cleverly staged. Having the actors move the props to chang... Read more Read less

92
Much much better than most bdwy dramas

See it if NYC must invite Gregory Prest since he is a wonderful actor & does a magnificent job as lead .Adaptation of book is superb. Talented cast.

Don't see it if Excellent theater is not your thing. Albert Schultz did a a masterful job directing this production which never feels minimal;very creative

92
Great acting, Must see, Riveting, Great staging, Wow

See it if You love ensemble theatre and great acting. You love excellent lighting and effects. This is a great show.

Don't see it if - nothing! See it!

92
Absorbing, Clever, Refreshing, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You appreciate refreshing staging and storytelling for scripts with deeply human subject matters.

Don't see it if You don't like accents or you're expecting whips and chains. It's not that kind of show. You may see a shoulder or two, though ;)

91
Maugham's melodrama gets a thrilling adaptation

See it if Move over Bette Davis. Soulpepper's adaptation delivers Maugham's tortured souls in a very theatrical adaptation of a tale of a man obsessed

Don't see it if you can't take a grim tale of manipulation and deceit. Highly inventive staging. Compelling, but definitely not a show for a first date.

91
Funny, Delightful, Enchanting, Thought-provoking

See it if You are an immigrant or have immigrant parents or friends, it relates to anyone who ever felt like an outsider trying to fit in.

Don't see it if If you are in the middle of a traumatic relationship and fell vulnerable.

91
Absorbing, Masterful, Profound, Great staging, Great use of music

See it if Finally Maugham's classic novel is brought to life with a play so creative and engrossing that 2 1/2 plus hours flies away pleasurably.

Don't see it if you prefer low brow entertainment or want a lavish musical.


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