Mad House ★★★★★ Ambassadors Theatre | Jun 15 - Sep 4, 2022

In a world of insanity whose values are money and power, the caring and compassionate must be considered mad. With ink black humour and and withering insight, Theresa Rebeck dissects a family patriarch, and his three damaged children. Daniel (Bill Pullman) is dying but he struggles to live, surviving on a diet of spite and abuse. As the quite repellant father figure, Pullman gives a bravura performance that is astoundingly matched by David Harbour's portrayal of Michael, the ostracised child who has been institutionalised. As the siblings, Nedward and Pam, Stephen Wight and Sinéad Matthews brilliantly support these outstanding interpretations, creating characters that believably embody the values of avarice and bullying power-play that they have inherited from their father. We particularly remarked how the characters' body language so skillfully underlined their temperaments. It is to the credit of Akiya Henry that in this cast of strongly drawn and over-the-top characters she is able to hold her own in the role of Lillian, the palliative care provider, who is the moral centre of the play. She does an outstanding job. Moritz von Stuelpnagel has also done fine work directing this powerful piece, ensuring that it does not fall into the parodic. Kudos also to Frankie Bradshaw for a remarkably evocative set. In the tradition of the dysfunctional-American-family genre, probably defined by Long Day's Journey Into Night, we now have a compelling new iteration in Mad House.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Marc Brenner.

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