WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE?: Wyndhams Theatre RUN TIME: 80 minutes (no interval)
WHEN?: 6/10, press night 9/10, runs to 1/12/18
French playwright Florian Zeller is interviewed in the programme and declares: ‘For me, theatre is above all the place for questions and not answers – for doubt more than certainty and conviction.’
- Read on for reasons including how Dame Eileen Atkins is terrific in the role of the protective wife
Visitors to the Wyndhams Theatre for this production would do well to bear that in mind because the storytelling in The Height Of The Storm is not linear. In fact, sometimes we shift between different versions of events within the same scene.
What’s most impressive here is how the lighting is used subtly to indicate when a character who remains onstage is not quite part of the scene we are seeing.
We saw Zeller’s The Truth several years ago in the West End and for us he is an author who seems to delight in showing how cleverly he can shape the structure of his work while its over complication compromises any emotional punch it might possess.
The story begins with Andre and Madeleine contemplating their 50 years of marriage as they are visited by their daughters.
Later an unexpected visitor to the couple’s home throws into doubt all that they have taken for granted in their half a century together.
Jonathan Pryce plays Andre and convinces as an ageing playwright who is struggling with his memories. Dame Eileen Atkins, so funny earlier this year in documentary Nothing Like A Dame, is terrific as the formidable wife who is devoted to her partner and suspicious of the motives of their children as they return to run a rule against the lives of their parents.
Director Jonathan Kent does the best with what he is given but we found the material a struggle to follow and the effort to do so was not quite merited by the story at this play’s heart.