Closed 2h 40m
Of Human Bondage
Midtown W
87

Of Human Bondage NYC Reviews and Tickets

87%
(138 Reviews)
Positive
96%
Mixed
4%
Negative
0%
Members say
Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Ambitious, Masterful

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.

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Member Reviews (138)

95
Masterful, Epic, Touching, Exquisite, Profound

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.

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

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. Read more

Critic Reviews (23)

July 6th, 2017

“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.”
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July 6th, 2017

"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."
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July 20th, 2017

"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."
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July 6th, 2017

"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.”
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July 10th, 2017

"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."
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July 6th, 2017

“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.”
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July 6th, 2017

"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."
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July 9th, 2017

"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."
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July 6th, 2017

"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."
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July 6th, 2017

"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."
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July 10th, 2017

"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."
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July 6th, 2017

“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.”
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July 11th, 2017

"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.”
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April 25th, 2014

“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.”
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April 25th, 2014

“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."
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April 25th, 2014

“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."
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February 28th, 2017

“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.”
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April 28th, 2014

“‘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.”
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February 9th, 2017

“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.”
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May 10th, 2014

“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."
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May 1st, 2014

“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.”
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February 27th, 2017

“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.”
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January 23rd, 2017

“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.”
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