Ends Jul 28

Of Human Bondage

Members say: Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent
87
Critics
85
23 reviews
Members
87
131 reviews
 

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.

... Read 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.

 
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Cast & Creatives (19)



Reviews (154)

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

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

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

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

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
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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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

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
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
87
Avg Score

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

90
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want to experience this wonderful theater company.This is the 2nd show I've seen by Soulpepper and both productions are terrific.

Don't see it if This play, based on Maugham's book, is not for everyone.It is a tragic story,but beautifully staged and acted. The cast is outstanding.

68
Disappointing

See it if you want to see this novel interpretted as a play; explore a new company; see fine actors with mediocre material; interesting staging.

Don't see it if you want new insights into a profoundly dated novel. Don't blame the cast but I question the motivation to do this at all

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

89
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Great staging

See it if you love inventive theater with an amazing cast telling a compelling story

Don't see it if you like your theatre straight forward and classically staged

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)

79
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if you like well-performed stage adaptations of literary works.

Don't see it if lose patience easily with characters who make the same mistakes over and over.

85
Absorbing, Great adaptation, Beautifully directed, Good old fashioned melodrama

See it if You like period pieces, strong lead actor, good writing. Excellent ensemble piece a la "Nicolas Nicolby." Brilliant use of sound effects!

Don't see it if You like musicals, or don't like shows shows over 2 hours. The lead female was miscast, but the rest of the ensemble were terrific.

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.

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!

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

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.

90
Ambitious, Clever, Delightful

See it if If you enjoy adaptations of fine literature, done cleverly

Don't see it if You may feel it another soap opera

65
Ambitious, Inventive, Overrated, Great staging, Excellent production of a weak adaptation

See it if you want to see a superb staging of a mediocre adaptation of Maugham's classic novel. The acting and directing are both excellent.

Don't see it if you are looking for a 90 minute intermissionless evening.

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

90
Absorbing, Clever, Gripping, Resonant, Well-performed

See it if you enjoy heavy dramas exploring the ambiguity of human nature--particularly love and obsession, loss, ambition, and sundry relationships

Don't see it if not a fan of W. Somerset Maugham's novel or the 1934 Bette Davis/Leslie Howard film; need a "tidy" story that is fast-paced; want fluff.

Also Canada's Soulpepper Theatre Company puts its best-foot forward with th... Read more Read less

82
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Great writing

See it if you want to see some great acting of a well written classic novel...

Don't see it if you don't like seeing actors waiting in "the wings" on stage or if you don't like sparse sets moved by the actors...

74
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Great direction

See it if a clever, stylized, compressed (necessarily) adaptation of a great novel is appealing to you.

Don't see it if you're such a devotee of Maugham that you'll be upset by a stage adaptation not being able to include every detail of the novel.

86
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Must see

See it if You like good acting in a drama that helps you think about people.

Don't see it if You don't like dramas with good actin that makes you think.

77
Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent

See it if you're interested in seeing a top Canadian theatre company perform an adaptation of a classic novel.

Don't see it if you're looking for something light.

84
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Long, Great staging

See it if you want to see an intelligent, creatively staged, well-acted adaptation of a popular novel.

Don't see it if you don't like adaptations or if you become impatient with characters who repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Also I haven't read the book and although I must have seen at least one of ... Read more Read less

66
Ambitious, Epic, Intense

See it if You enjoy stripped down ensemble plays investigating drive.

Don't see it if You like a strong pace and action.

80
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to see a creatively staged adaptation with great acting and use of sound. You're interested in stories about human connections.

Don't see it if you find classic literature stories dated—not much negative to say about the production, but maybe the actual story isn't your taste.

86
Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if very well done; all of the actors did an admirable job; very emotional performances

Don't see it if you don't like seeing all of the actors on stage; don't like long plays

85
Absorbing, Ambitious, Epic, Intense, Entertaining

See it if Dickensesque in storytelling, profound human emotions, timeless tale of human nature, totally entertaining

Don't see it if Stylistic staging at times adds little, middle of first acts gets a little banal. Bit of a soap opera