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.
Mad House reviews
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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 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"
"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. "
"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."