The Mother
Closed 1h 30m
The Mother
68

The Mother NYC Reviews and Tickets

68%
(113 Reviews)
Positive
58%
Mixed
29%
Negative
13%
Members say
Great acting, Confusing, Disappointing, Absorbing, Intense

About the Show

Academy Award nominee Isabelle Huppert and Golden Globe Award nominee Chris Noth star in Atlantic's disquieting new play about a woman grasping for stability.

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Member Reviews (113)

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68
Oedipal, Slow, Somber, Disappointing, Great lead performance

See it if you want to see Huppert give a chilling performance as a devouring, possessive mother in a drug-addled descent as she deals with separation.

Don't see it if you'll feel unfulfilled by the lack of emotional impact or genuine feelings; you expect any new or original insights into the Mother Complex

84
Great staging, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Absorbing

See it if Middle-aged isolated wife feels most alluring when reminded she is mother to prized son.Actor of international acclaim takes on Not-Broadway

Don't see it if Untrustworthy is any sequence appearing onstage (time shifts; incest) as perspective might prove to be from a woman taking a mental pause. Read more

Critic Reviews (30)

The New York Times
March 11th, 2019

“It is not a tidy performance. And it almost rips the seams out of Zeller’s carefully measured study of one woman’s disintegration. But there’s no denying that Huppert’s Anne is compulsively watchable, even as she drags you, squirming, clean out of your comfort zone...Huppert fills the stage in a hallucinogenic blaze of activity...She’ll take you scary places you didn’t know existed. You may not want to follow, but when a performance is this committed, you really don’t have a choice.”
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Time Out New York
March 11th, 2019

"Zeller is presumably aiming for Pinteresque poignancy, but the play winds up in Freud 101, right down to its Oedipal core...As her bipolar bitchiness gives way to despair, confusion and fantasy, the pace slows to a slog. A so-called 'black farce,' this downer of a play is only fitfully funny and almost completely lacking in feeling. By the end, it's hard to tell what's actually happening and what's in Anne's head, but there’s a good chance that your own brain will have checked out long before."
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The Hollywood Reporter
March 11th, 2019

“The great Huppert is such a uniquely fascinating stage creature she almost makes it possible to overlook the stiff mechanics of Zeller's psychodrama and its familiar structural tricks...Cullman's taut production...does a fine job of dressing up the thin text with stylish design elements...Huppert vastly outshines the material, but watching a consummate artist execute even a transparent dramatic exercise such as this one can be mesmerizing.”
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Entertainment Weekly
March 11th, 2019

“Don’t be surprised about the Oedipal vibe to ‘The Mother’, which gets weird, but Smith and Huppert are so good together that you can’t wait for him to get on stage so they can do their creepy mother/son dance all over again...With its fluid use of time and very dark humor, ‘The Mother’ is certainly not for everyone, but being able to see the legendary Huppert on stage doing a full Huppert Performance and Smith’s future promise is certainly worth the price of admission.”
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Variety
March 11th, 2019

"’The Mother’ is undone not so much by her losses as by the accumulation of knowledge and flashes of insight that she acquires — into her husband’s betrayals, her son’s withdrawal and into her own unraveling mind...This turns out to be an upsetting play rather than an engaging one, and if it weren’t for Huppert’s mesmerizing performance, it might send you out of the theater and screaming into the night.”
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The Observer
March 12th, 2019

"A pile of incomprehensible gibberish...If you take the dare and suffer through 'The Mother,' I’m willing to bet you’ll wish you’d stayed home...Huppert enlivens every minute...Mostly a series of shrieks that are boring enough to be numbing, and the ugly set by Wendland is nothing more than a long white sofa that breaks into sections to allow for multiple shrieks at the same time...The dialogue isn’t worth hearing anyway...You go away from 'The Mother' baffled but exhausted."
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Theatermania
March 11th, 2019

“A psychologically incisive look at a middle-aged mother's clinical depression, but never fully delivers the searing poignancy we expect...Once you grasp its structural gimmick early on, there's nowhere left for ‘The Mother’ to go but down, and Zeller doesn't offer many surprises...Overall, the cumulative effect of ‘The Mother’ is like watching a slow-motion car wreck: at times fascinating to gawk at, but leaving us none the wiser as we drive by.”
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BroadwayWorld
March 12th, 2019

"As the audience enters...she is on stage with a book in her hand, occasionally perusing it as she sits on one end of the stage-length couch...the major set piece of director Cullman's tense production...Mother's depression-fueled mood swings are handled with extraordinary finesse by Huppert...The tragedy of her illness, as depicted in the play, is that her behavior pushes away those who aren't willing to deal with the fact that it's the disease that is making her so cold and needy."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 12th, 2019

"Good, nasty fun for fans of thrillers, and I hasten to add that Zeller keeps the audience guessing...Without a pyrotechnic performance at stage center, 'The Mother' might seem a rather derivative entertainment. Still, no worries here: Huppert doesn't take the stage; she has already commanded it before we enter, and she surrenders to nobody. This is nothing against her three co-stars, who hold their own...Even if 'The Mother' is little more than a star vehicle -- oh, what a star."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 11th, 2019

"It's a grim, 85 intermission-less minutes...Effortlessly chic and captivating to watch, Huppert is a wonderful actress. But when she speaks rapidly, which she does frequently, she becomes almost impossible to understand...Aging mothers whose children ignore them have been fodder for writers and dramatists for hundreds of years. 'The Mother' puts a fresh spin on it but I'm not convinced it's a spin that adds anything new to the conversation."
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New York Stage Review
March 11th, 2019

“One is tempted to say that ‘The Mother’ must have lost something vital in the translation, but Hampton is skillful and careful enough to make this seem unlikely. Perhaps the issue is the production, but one doesn’t see what more Cullman could have done with this play, in this form...Huppert is enough of a raison d’être to justify the production. She is impressive, but under the circumstances strays over the top to the extent that you might have trouble believing her."
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New York Stage Review
March 11th, 2019

“Despite predictably bracing performances...‘Mother’ never achieves the level of emotional depth or intrigue that ‘Father’ delivered. A large part of the problem is the fundamental predicament, that of a middle-aged woman alienated from her husband turning to her grown son for affirmation and affection...But Zeller offers neither fresh insights nor especially provocative twists...Anne might have benefited from more definition...Not even Huppert can make her seem fully alive."
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TheaterScene.net
March 19th, 2019

"'The Mother,' subtitled a 'black farce' in the script, is not a play for all theatergoers as it makes the audience work for its hold on reality, but it does deliver it whole. However, as Zeller has become the leading French dramatic export (look for his play 'The Height of the Storm' on Broadway in the fall), serious theatergoers will not want to miss this second part of his trilogy to reach our shores. And a commanding performance by film superstar Isabelle Huppert is not to be missed."
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Theater Pizzazz
March 11th, 2019

"Huppert offers one of the most extraordinary displays of physical and verbal acting you'll see on the stage this season. You simply won't be able to take your eyes off her whether she's simply putting on stockings, dancing around the apartment in her new, slightly too short red dress or flickering her face in disgust or disbelief. Her line readings are similarly expert; she's loving one second, hateful the next, seemingly in control this minute and utterly confused the minute after."
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CurtainUp
March 12th, 2019

"A top drawer production, with the busy Trip Cullman at the helm...Though Huppert's accent takes a bit of getting used to, this is a minor problem since she's an amazingly powerful physical actress. There is a problem, however, with the play itself. Though structured the same way as 'The Father,' the result simply doesn't have the same emotional impact or dramatic vigor...Director Cullman smoothly and briskly steers Anne to descend into Zeller's rabbit hole of madness."
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Front Row Center
March 12th, 2019

"A tragic, humorous and disorienting trip into the mind of a mother who, in gaining distance from her adult children, begins to lose her standing in reality...Mother is played expertly by Ms. Huppert, who commits humor to the role, exhausting every possible solution and fighting back every step of the way...You will leave the theater trying to piece together the narrative for yourself...But this is the success of the production, you leave with more questions than answers."
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Front Mezz Junkies
April 11th, 2019

"With a wide bombastic direction, Trip Cullman, tackles 'The Mother' with as fearless a devotion to the material as Huppert, diving in to the maternal focus with boundless energy...Huppert and company are working hard, trying their best to formulate and transcend the depth of her despair with hopes that her descent reverberates more than just simple psychosis on display. It flails out, wide and jarring, especially when the brave Huppert starts spiraling as wildly as her mind."
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T
March 18th, 2019

"Ms. Huppert’s performance rarely reaches beyond the histrionic and her unbalanced command of the stage does not give the rest of cast opportunities to develop well-rounded characters. In short, while Mr. Zeller’s 'The Father' is deeply cathartic, his 'The Mother' comes off as pretentious, overstuffed, and devoid of ethos or pathos."
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New York Theater
March 17th, 2019

"The woman has only brief moments of fitful clarity. The same could be said of the play...What engages us in 'The Mother' is the thrill of seeing a starry cast...Isabelle Huppert is supremely watchable. Justice Smith is graceful. Noth is solid...All four actors do what they can do enliven the mannered, belabored and repetitive script. I’m glad I didn’t miss their performances. I felt like I missed the play, even as I was sitting through it."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
April 4th, 2019

"The premise gives the playwright numerous options for allowing Huppert to chew what little scenery she's provided…Anne's manic behavior includes whipping her red hair around like a kabuki lion...Actresses should study how Huppert can hypnotize just by blowing smoke…I was neither moved nor otherwise simulated by a play whose principal achievement is to use mental illness as a springboard for devices designed to drive an otherwise uninteresting, unoriginal plot."
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The Guardian (UK)
March 11th, 2019

“In this oddly regressive work, described in the script as a dark farce, a ferocious Huppert stars as Anne...The play’s assumptions that the world has no place for such women and Anne’s gyrating attempts to cling to youth feel outmoded...Though the play is never anything like funny, Cullman has embraced the dark farce specification and the hard, glib style evades any pathos...Huppert is the only reason to see it.”
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The Clyde Fitch Report
March 11th, 2019

“It’s no picnic spending time with these people; the more they hopscotch from this possible exchange to the next, the less the play holds substantial meaning. But we do get our unadulterated Huppert, woe-is-me-ing to beat the band, every bit as good as it ever is...There’s no question Zeller’s work is worth watching and that even if ‘The Mother’ isn’t a feast for the eye or the ear, there is always Huppert.”
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Gotham Playgoer
March 11th, 2019

“You may remember another play by Zeller from a few seasons back, ’The Father’...The current play is considerably less artful...Cullman’s direction veers toward the gimmicky and values style over substance...There are a few dramatic moments along the way, but there is an abstracted distancing feel to the production that dulls their impact. While I was happy to have the opportunity to see Huppert...I was disappointed that the play never approached the quality of ‘The Father.’”
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The Wrap
March 11th, 2019

“For 90 minutes or so, we experience what it is to have our mind completely unravel. It’s not unlike the vicarious thrill you get watching a 1970s disaster movie...The difference is, Zeller takes us on a journey far more frightening because it’s far more common and no one survives...Huppert brings her signature icy hauteur to the role...It’s a showy performance, but it allows the actress to cut through her own steeliness, grab us by the hand and explore together a mother’s madness.”
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W
April 2nd, 2019

“This chaotic, irritating piece, seems, like its heroine, completely without bearings...Like watching an accident, it’s horrifying and no small credit to Huppert’s craft that we don’t look away. But none of us care...Huppert is the only reason to see this play and perhaps not enough...Cullman gets his players on and off stage/into the theater with skill and alacrity, decisions he’s made about approach seem suffocated by unsuccessful devices.”
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Broadway & Me
March 16th, 2019

"I couldn’t have been more disappointed...We see her cross examining her American husband, stoically played by Chris Noth, about why he’s late. And then the scene plays out again. And again...I get that the disorientation is intentional but although the show only runs 90-minutes, it seemed interminable...It was also hard to tell what was supposed to be real and what was supposed to be only in Ann’s mind...Huppert’s French accent also made it hard for me to understand."
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Stage Left
March 13th, 2019

"Director Trip Cullman delivers some of his finest work to date, creating an unsettling and totally enveloping mise-en-scène while eliciting a captivating quartet of performances. It takes a couple minutes to adjust to Ms. Huppert’s thick French accent and the peculiar logic of the play, but once things click, she is simply ravishing and impossible not to watch...'The Mother' is hardly an uplifting play, but rarely is its theme seen in such focused, high relief on stage."
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Off Off Online
March 20th, 2019

“Each of the play’s three ‘acts’’ has three versions...Lighted noirishly by Ben Stanton, Huppert as Anne is extraordinary. She sprawls, dances, writhes, cuddles, collapses and rolls on the floor—she’s always on the move...The other performers are fine and give her solid support, but ‘The Mother’, even when it stretches credibility and flirts with incest, is a powerhouse vehicle for an actress, and Huppert delivers.”
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Newsday
March 11th, 2019

“Huppert is riveting as a woman losing her mind...Dark, disquieting and depressing play...The play unfolds in ‘Rashomon’ fashion, scenes repeating and retelling in random order...It is a tour de force performance, physically and emotionally challenging for Huppert...As the production veers sharply into the absurd, the audience is left second-guessing every moment.”
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T
March 13th, 2019

“The play’s structure is not linear and scenes often repeat with slight variations...Huppert’s performance is big and quite fun to watch...Cullman directed ‘The Mother’ so you cannot look away. The tension does not let up even when there is humor...I found the unstable narrative of this play nicely matched with the unreliable mental condition of the protagonist. Nice supporting performances...add to the swirling disorientation of this interesting play.”
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