THEATRE REVIEW: Force Majeure starring Rory Kinnear at the Donmar

By Neil Durham


WHEN?: Saturday 11 December, opens 16 December, booking until 5 February 2022 Note: this production did not open and is currently paused because of Covid. Previews resume 29 December 2021

The stage is a dry ski slope for this tale of a family skiing holiday that goes wrong when an avalanche hits.

  • Read on for reasons including why this is a well-acted production that left us feeling cold

The sound of occasional gunshots provide a sinister aural backdrop as controlled avalanches are triggered in the mountain holiday resort in the French Alps to avert disaster.

Fight or flight is the starting point for this play based on the Oscar-nominated film of the same name when father Tomas disappoints his wife and 2 children by running from them screaming when he thinks they are about to be buried alive by snow.

The Olivier Award-winning Kinnear convinces as the cowardly father-of-2 who maintains initially he did not actually leave the side of his family as peril was about to strike.

Wife Ebba played by Lyndsey Marshal needs time to process what has happened and things reach epic cringe levels when Tomas in confronted by the couple’s friends and his own phone footage of what actually happened.

The incident sparks debate about whether the survival instinct is determined by gender and whether women are more predisposed to sticking by family than men.

We are also asked to consider whether men can behave as children and find it difficult to grow up whereas that is not a luxury afforded women.

Nathalie Armin’s Charlotte is introduced as a mother holidaying alone for ‘me time’ as the idea of parents needing freedom within marriage to ensure their children are at their most happy is explored.

While there is actual ski-ing across the stage and ski poles light up in different colours to illuminate the action, the audience views from stage left and right are a little obscured by the slope and a bed which pops up from within it to serve as a location for debate between different characters.

Although occasionally funny, ultimately we found it hard to have too much sympathy with Kinnear’s anti-hero.

The meaning of the title is a contractual clause freeing both parties from liability in the event of unexpected disasters and, while we appreciate how clever that is, this is a well-acted production which left us feeling cold.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Donmar Warehouse Tickets
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