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The Father (TFANA)

From 18 critic and 32 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Intense, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the show

Theatre for a New Audience presents August Strindberg's startling vision of marriage and the battle of the sexes. More…

Strindberg reportedly wrote 'The Father' in response to Henrik Ibsen's 'A Doll's House.' Now, for the first time ever, these two plays will be performed in rotating repertory. Working with a new adaptation of Strindberg's classic by Scottish author David Greig, Theatre for a New Audience mounts both shows with director Arin Arbus and Drama Desk Award winning actors Maggie Lacey and John Douglas Thompson.


"These inspired revivals using the Thornton Wilder adaptation of 'A Doll’s House' and Scottish playwright David Greig’s new English language version of 'The Father' feature a company of actors led by the magnificent John Douglas Thompson and Maggie Lacey, all of whom appear in both plays. With the audience sitting on opposite sides of a narrow playing area with two walls removed that puts the viewers ring side, these productions are dazzling theater whether seen in tandem or seen separately." Full Review


"A gem of a play…The acting ensemble delivers the goods…Thompson, as the Captain, balances his performance with displays of hubris early on and then the desolation of a man suffering a severe mental breakdown. Lacey portrays the Captain’s wife Laura with all the ruthlessness of Lady Macbeth…Arbus does a double slam-dunk by staging these two 19th-century works in rotation. With a fine acting ensemble, this theatrical event is a must-see." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"I am still experiencing emotional aftershocks from the ground shifting so suddenly beneath my feet. It stings and aches and takes you completely by surprise...The thrill, the shock, the surprise, the horror, the recognition, and the sorrow are ignited by the masterful and astounding performances by Maggie Lacey and John Douglas Thompson." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A taut, tension-filled psychological battle…Thompson charts the Captain's breakdown, step by harrowing step...His total surrender is both disturbing and impossible to turn away from, climaxing in a kind of fit that also works as a physical expression of total despair. Next to his tour de force, Lacey, as Laura, plays a kind of dramatic rope-a-dope, cannily circling her prey and inserting new stabs of doubt and fear into his head...Arbus gets exceptional work from her cast." Full Review

The New York Times

"What really awakens the senses here is the feeling of suffocation that pervades the domestic battlefield…Ms. Arbus’s interpretation and Ms. Lacey’s performance help insure that the argument here is by no means one-sided. If Laura is compelled to destroy her husband, it’s because she has effectively been his prisoner for so long…Mr. Thompson’s Captain is, in a word, brilliant, an exact and devastating portrait of one man’s inevitable collapse." Full Review


"Insightfully directed…A terrific repertory ensemble...Thompson gives full reign to the high-octane dramatic chops that have earned him a reputation as one of the contemporary theater's best and most vivid Shakespearean actors…I've always found 'The Father' something of a yawn, hopelessly dated and excessively melodramatic. But seeing it in this context didn't have a boring moment, it's full of unforgettable moments." Full Review

Epoch Times

"Theatre for a New Audience presents the two works in repertory to great effect…Thompson’s performance as the Captain is a particular tour de force, taking him from an outwardly stern and commanding person to one tormented by passion and the continual destruction of his dreams...Lacey plays Laura to perfection….Arin Arbus’s direction works well here, especially in terms of building the tension of who will be found ultimately in the wrong…Very well done indeed." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"As wonderful as these supporting characters are, the spotlight goes to the main couple at the center of the play. In one moment purring at each other and another with their claws out, Lacey and Thompson embody the myriad challenges of married life, and little of the joys. It’s messy, it’s unromantic, and it’s real. It also serves to hold a mirror up to the boxes both women and men were put into back in the late 19th century, and perhaps still are." Full Review

Off Off Online

"A harrowing and magnificent performance by Thompson...The Strindberg provides him with a role of rare emotional range in which he, along with the audience watching him, absolutely revels...Arbus and her marvelous casts invite us to place these plays beside each other and come away with a new understanding, not only of these works, not only of these playwrights, but of ourselves. Can great theater do more?" Full Review

Plays to See

"Unlike Ibsen’s proto-feminist case for liberation, Strindberg asserts here that women have always been the stronger...Lacey’s convincing Laura is Nora as an utter adult. And Thompson certainly gets his chance here to release all emotional safety...This is modern domestic drama of the highest caliber, played exceptionally well, and presented in a program that will leave you discussing it for days." Full Review

Entertainment Hour Blog

“A great piece of theater will leave its audience having a full-out discussion. TFANA’s productions leave its audiences having full-out debates...One particular moment between Adolph and Bertha elicited a collective gasp from the audience...Thompson and Lacey give some of the most distressing, high-energy portrayals of husband and wife since Burton and Taylor in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’” Full Review


“As played by Thompson, the Captain comes across like an innocuous nut job...By contrast, Lacey's Laura is calculating in her malice, ‘I've yet to meet the man I can't defeat,’ she tells her husband, her icy gaze freezing him in his tracks. Such melodramatic lines pervade the text, and this fabulous cast knocks them all out of the park. Strindberg's darkness, his pseudo-adolescent gloom, registers here as high camp and we love every second of it.” Full Review

New York Daily News

"The battle of the sexes comes served two ways in Theatre for a New Audience’s sturdy and ever-accessible double bill of classics...Maggie Lacey plays against her girl-next-door looks. In 'The Father,' she’s a wife who drives her husband crazy by undermining his trust...John Douglas Thompson brings depth as her spouse in each show." Full Review

Time Out New York

“Turgid doesn’t begin to describe the dialectic embedded in August Strindberg’s melodramatic battle of wills, and yet adapter David Greig manages to winkle out humor and insight...Though Strindberg was clearly on the side of his hog-tied title character, a grudging respect is surely due such a resourceful virago.” Full Review

Berkshire Fine Arts

"An intimate engagement with powerful emotions…Thompson creates the tortured angst twisted with authority of this complex and intriguing character…The doctor in ‘The Father’ could be taken for a wimp, but Gore shows us his courage when he listens carefully to both sides of an argument, and appears to be swayed only by reason…Laurie Kennedy as the captain's childhood nurse stands out in her delicate, moving performance as both mother and savior of her now grown charge." Full Review

Carey Purcell

"Gripping and resonant...As played by Lacey, Laura in 'The Father' is not a mere villain or even a plotting, revenge-driven woman. The suffocating atmosphere of her house, and her husband’s insufferable superiority, enhance the feeling of claustrophobia that permeates the production...Especially affecting are how the conclusions of plays are staged, with scenes that are both haunting and damning of the characters and offer new perspectives that blur the lines of good and evil." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The plays feel more accessible and tailored to a wider audience than ever, thanks to dual outstanding lead performances in both pieces by John Douglas Thompson and Maggie Lacey. Under the capable direction of Arin Arbus, Thompson and Lacey storm through both masterworks with an intensity and passion that elevate them far above all other elements of the productions." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"‘The Father’ and ‘A Doll’s House’ are always worth revisiting, and the idea of pairing these two modern classics about marriage is commendable. For all their flaws, the productions are consistently viewable and smoothly done. They're accessible and thoughtful but—aside from the magnetic Thompson—neither is particularly memorable; perhaps, in fact, that's somewhat to their credit." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Profound

See it if It was a privilege to be in the audience to experience Mr Langella's performance.

Don't see it if This is a must see play and performance

Riveting, Masterful, Great staging, Great acting, Profound

See it if In a relationship, got a partner, want to understand your parents? See this superb production. Sorry, you only have one more day, till 6/12.

Don't see it if You might have a tough time getting in, but try. I see no reason not to see this battle of the sexes play. Getting hitched? Think twice.

Great writing, Intelligent, Intense, Riveting

See it if For the majestic John Douglas Thompson, coming apart at the seams at the hands of his tactically superior wife. The dark humor is a joy.

Don't see it if You don't care for an epic battle of the sexes circa 1887. It seems like yesterday. It feigns a sexism we see today, though we hide it now.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Riveting, Masterful

See it if you love great drama, wonderful acting and Strindberg

Don't see it if you want something uplifting and not an intense psychological drama

Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if love great acting and Strindberg. Excellent new translation. Tight, taught and fast moving production.

Don't see it if Don't like Nordic School of drama

Great acting, Great acting, wonderful battle of the sexes

See it if You have never seen John Douglas Thompson. you will find him to be one of the true treasures of contempary theatre.

Don't see it if You can't give a 100 year old play a little leeway.

Riveting, Shattering performances, Great writing

See it if to witness a devastating drama by Strindberg performed with immediacy and great intensity​. A must-see for true theater lovers.

Don't see it if you prefer a Hollywood ending and the war of the sexes and dysfunctional family life are not for you.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Intense

See it if You are a fan of John Douglas Thompson. You want to see some great acting in a classic Strindberg play

Don't see it if You hate Strindberg

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Riveting

See it if You want to see Strindberg's modern take on the battle of the sexes, with an amazing performance by John Douglas Thompson.

Don't see it if You can't stand that the whole mishegoss could have been avoided with one DNA test. Where is Dr. Phil when we need him?

Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You want a well written dark look at marriage and family.

Don't see it if you need more than strong dialogue to be entertained.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense

See it if you like shows about marital strife. This one is evocative of both "Gaslight" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf".

Don't see it if you dislike bare sets (this one isn't completely bare, but it comes close) or if you can't handle one or two overly long monologues.

Great acting, Intelligent, Riveting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you are a fan of John Douglas Thompson, who gives yet one more great performance in a challenging role!

Don't see it if you don't like really intense tragedy.

Absorbing, Clever, Great staging, Intelligent, Original

See it if You like to be surprised

Don't see it if The subject matter is too close to home

Great acting, Dizzying, Depressing, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if misreviewed.

Don't see it if ....

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if Riveting production , deftly directed,brilliant performance by J.D. Thompson and outstanding Maggie Lacey, and cast. Powerful,relevant!

Don't see it if Strindberg's view on marriage and the sexes don't engage you.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Riveting, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a great performance (by John Douglas Thompson), you like Strindberg or interested in his response to A Doll's House

Don't see it if you're in the mood for something light and fluffy. There are moments of humor, but this play is delivered in a dramatic, serious way

Clever, Intelligent, Masterful, Dated, Great writing

See it if You never saw a Strindberg play. Strindberg was a contemporary of Ibsen, and wrote this reacting to "A Doll's House". V. good, Ibsen wins.

Don't see it if No interest in Strindberg/Ibsen, or traveling to Brooklyn.

Great acting, Intelligent, Overrated, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You are in a serious mood

Don't see it if if you want something light and cheery

Clever, Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense, Disappointing

See it if you want to see really good actors go all in on a canonical work; if you're interested to hear a very contemporary adaptation by David Grieg

Don't see it if you do not have an existing investment in the play, the actors or the director; if you're looking for a fun night out

Clever, Confusing, Disappointing, Intelligent

See it if you know someone who's loosing their mental powers. It may help you understand them better. You will be confused - like the main character.

Don't see it if you're expecting a showy performance or a story told in a clear manner. It's a small show about a heartbreaking topic.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy excellent acting

Don't see it if you are confused about the story line of a play

Ambitious, Clever, Great writing, Profound, Intense

See it if You like the discussion of gender roles

Don't see it if You are impatient. There is no intermission

Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You have feelings about gender roles. You are into alternative staging and classics.

Don't see it if You don't like historical literature.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Relevant

See it if You want a clear look at life of an Alzheimer's patient

Don't see it if You don't like intense dramas

Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Resonant

See it if You like theatre for a new audience

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

Cast & Creatives (17)