Mad House Ambassadors Theatre

Mad House reviews starring David Harbour & Bill Pullman – Ambassadors Theatre 2022 ★★★

Reviews are in for Mad House at The Ambassadors Theatre in London’s West End.

Starring David Harbour (Stranger Things) and Bill Pullman (The Sinner, Independence Day) this bitingly funny new play from acclaimed American playwright Theresa Rebeck is a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family returning to their father’s house during his final days.

Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the cast also features Stephen Wight (I May Destroy You), Akiya Henry (Much Ado About Nothing – RSC), Hanako Footman (The Crown), Sinead Matthews (Hullraisers, The Crown) and Charlie Oscar (Doctor Who).

Mad House is booking from 26 June to 4 September 2022 at the Ambassadors Theatre in London.

Average Critics Rating

Mad House reviews

The Evening Standard

"Both stars are brilliant"

"Pullman as Daniel is sallow and sunken, frequently wiping gunk from the corners of his mouth, every word an effort."

"Harbour gives a tender and hilarious performance as the long-suffering family pariah Michael, who openly wishes for his father to die sooner rather than later. Both actors have exquisite comic timing, carefully nurtured by director Moritz Von Stuelpnagel to illuminate the deliciously dark comedy of Theresa Rebeck’s script. Stuelpnagel and Rebeck are regular collaborators, and the creative chemistry is palpable."

"When an audible gasp ripples across the audience at the mere snap of a pencil, it’s clear that their production has us right in the palm of its hand."

Farah Najib, The Evening Standard
Read the review
More The Evening Standard reviews
The Independent

"David Harbour is tremendous fun in this old-fashioned comedy"

"It’s a fine showcase for the talents of Harbour and Bill Pullman, but ‘Mad House’ is built on shaky foundations"

"It’s an entertaining but uninspired showcase for two megawatt US talents: Bill Pullman, who revels in the role of dying patriarch Daniel, and Stranger Things star David Harbour, who plays his put-upon son Michael with the vigour of a wounded bear."

"They’re tremendous fun to watch. "

"Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel keeps things pacy, and secures fine, flamboyant performances from this A-grade cast. But still, this is all deeply old-fashioned stuff which, bar an uncomfortable and unnecessary argument about trans people, could have easily been written any time in the last five decades."

Alice Saville, The Independent
Read the review
More reviews by Alice Saville
More The Independent reviews
The Times

"Bill Pullman and David Harbour excel in a twisty family drama"

"The first hour or so delivers an absorbing blend of dark and light, anguish and humour. Sadly, that delicate balance goes awry later. It’s still a thought-provoking piece, but you’re left wondering what might have been."

"What’s striking, though, is how much dark laughter Rebeck and director Moritz von Stuelpnagel smuggle into this bleak scenario."

Clive Davis, The Times
Read the review
More reviews by Clive Davis
More The Times reviews

"David Harbour, Bill Pullman Make Theresa Rebeck’s Chaotic Melodrama Seem Better Than It Is"

"You can see why actors of the caliber of David Harbour and Bill Pullman — plus equally gifted British talents Akiya Henry and Sinéad Matthews — wanted to appear in this world premiere. Rebeck has barely been produced in the U.K., but it’s immediately clear she knows how to whip up bitterly comic set-pieces for actors to sink their teeth into. But she has come up with a clutch of juicy, smart-mouthed roles rather than making them cohere into anything with true resonance beyond the melodramatic twists and turns of a secondhand family plot."

David Benedict, Variety
Read the review
More reviews by David Benedict
More Variety reviews
The Guardian

"David Harbour and Bill Pullman spar in dark family psychodrama"

"Under the direction of Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the first half seems like a particularly savage episode of Frasier"

"There are some sharp lines in Rebeck’s script, though the serrated humour is not as blistering as it strives to be."

"Too much is thrown in without enough depth or structural coherence; there are echoes of King Lear as Daniel uses threats of disinheritance to keep his three children in line, even as two – Nedward and Pam (Sinéad Matthews) – scheme for the lucrative deeds of his house. Pam is particularly flat in her villainy, which seems like a motor for the plot."

"Performances are magnificent across the board"

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
Read the review
More reviews by Arifa Akbar
More The Guardian reviews
The Telegraph

"David Harbour stars in a darkly comic play about his own mental health"

"As the damaged man-child, Harbour delivers the requisite goods: hefty, forceful, brooding, tilting between sardonic intensity, petulance and yowling rage. As his dad, however, Pullman often seems more sweetly helpless than residually noxious."

"The dark comedy draws you in, but hits the snag of leaving you a bit high and dry when you yourself are required to care. This show, directed a bit stiffly by Moritz Von Stuelpnagel, isn’t laying claim to the mighty impact of such American family drama behemoths as Long Day’s Journey into Night. All the same, it struggles to dovetail the sharp comic back-biting with a sense of truly gut-wrenching showdown. "

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
Read the review
More reviews by Dominic Cavendish
More The Telegraph reviews
The Stage

"Dark and punchy"

"Offbeat black comedy loses focus despite meaty performances from David Harbour and Bill Pullman"

"Rebeck’s characters are certainly fascinatingly flawed, full of wit, spite and open emotional wounds."

"Though it’s loaded with crisp dialogue and moments of wince-inducing viciousness, Rebeck’s script suffers from its low stakes and ponderous pace."

"David Harbour and Bill Pullman show off some grippingly jagged chemistry, nailing the acrimonious bickering and stifled affection between an impossible-to-placate elderly parent and the frustrated child who’s become their primary caregiver."

Dave Fargnoli, The Stage
Read the review
More reviews by Dave Fargnoli
More The Stage reviews
The New York Times

"... what can I say beyond noting that I didn’t believe a single word of the fractiousness on view?"

"The synthetic feeling of Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s production is especially surprising following reports that Rebeck, the American author of such accomplished Broadway plays as “Seminar” and “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” wrote the play very much with its leading man, the TV star and stage actor David Harbour, in mind — specifically drawing upon mental health issues that Harbour has confronted in the past."

Matt Wolf, The New York Times
Read the review
More reviews by Matt Wolf
More The New York Times reviews
Sign-up for booking alerts, offers & news about Mad House and other shows:

📷 Main photo: Bill Pullman & David Harbour in Mad House. Photo: Marc Brenner

Related News

More >

Latest News

More >

Leave a Review or Comment

Comments and reviews are subject to our participation guidelines policy, which can be viewed here. Our policy is for readers to use their REAL NAMES when commenting.