Who Killed My Father reviews at the Young Vic ★★★★

Reviews are in for Who Killed My Father at the Young Vic in London.

Hans Kesting gives an explosive 80-minute performance in Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of Édouard Louis’s novel Who Killed My Father. The piece is a furious indictment of the political elite and a son’s declaration of love for his father.

Édouard Louis’s breakout memoir The End of Eddy looked at a young gay man’s escape from a homophobic working class factory town. Who Killed My Father centres on his once-terrifying father – a retired factory worker who’s been crushed by decades of factory labour, cigarettes and alcohol – through new eyes.

Book tickets to Who Killed My Father

Who Killed My Father runs until 24 September 2022 at the Young Vic theatre, London.

Average Critics Rating
★★★★

Who Killed My Father reviews

The Evening Standard
★★★★

"Ivo van Hove’s Édouard Louis adaptation is bleak but loving"

"Hans Kesting’s brilliant physical performance anchors this gripping one-man show"

"This 80-minute monologue is explosive, a missile hurled at political elites who operate in blithe ignorance of the ordinary lives they stifle."

"Hans Kesting contorts his body into something broken, capturing the tortured physicality of a man who’s been crushed by decades of factory labour, by endless cigarettes, by the alcohol he uses to numb the boredom."

"In striking, backlit scenes, he smokes then crumples into hacking coughs that spray the stage with glowing droplets."

"Kesting’s brilliantly physical performance constantly proves this play’s central idea: that politics is an abstract game for the wealthy, but causes bodily suffering to the working class. It’s often painful to watch. But Van Hove’s production is teasingly affectionate as well as bleak:"

Alice Saville, The Evening Standard
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The Guardian
★★★★

"A powerful study of class, cruelty and kin"

"Hans Kesting is spellbinding as an anguished man facing up to his abusive father"

"Director Ivo van Hove elicits a performance of captivating intensity from Kesting. He addresses the invisible father but also slips into playing him. The transformation between the laconic gruffness of the father and the pain and anger of the son is penetrating and precise."

"Jan Versweyveld’s stage design is characteristically stripped back, drawing our eye to every detail. "

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Stage
★★★★

"Understated and socially engaged"

"Engaging and accusatory monologue delivered by the gently compelling Hans Kesting"

"Though the pacing is at times sluggish, the production shifts gear when Kesting begins to directly address the audience. He holds the French government to account for its treatment of the poor, for cutting back on welfare payments and all but accusing the people who rely on them of leeching off the state, and for effectively breaking his father afresh. He castigates French politicians for complacency, labelling them essentially complicit in murder of the most vulnerable, and it’s horribly, depressingly resonant. Who Killed My Father is at once Van Hove at his most understated and most socially engaged, and the piece is more powerful for it."

Natasha Tripney, The Stage
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Daily Express
★★★★

"Hans Kesting excels in one-man show"

"The title is not a question but a statement. Based on Edouard Louis' 2018 autobiographical novel, this one-man play, adapted and directed by Ivo van Hove, explores the author's attempt at reconciliation with his dying father in northern France."

"Exposing the damage inflicted on the physical body by cuts in the welfare system, Louis, van Hove and Kesting collaborate on a blazing, powerful and essential play that blasts most single-character shows into oblivion. I haven’t seen a performance like it in years."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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The Observer
★★★★

"This is a violently populated one-man show"

"Kesting proves a master of seamlessly disconcerting transitions as, stooping and burrowing hands under his jumper, he becomes his paunchy, breathless, suffering father."

"The transition between memoir and drama is less satisfactory in Van Hove’s adaptation – there are stretches that seem too written through, as if they had not fully succeeded in coming away from the page"

Kate Kellaway, The Observer
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The Financial Times
★★★★

"Grief and poverty furiously warp a father-son relationship"

"... it’s a one-man show. But in Hans Kesting’s superb performance, there seem to be constantly two people on stage as he slips with a dancer’s precision from father to son."

"Sturdy yet light, raw yet controlled, it’s a beautifully executed physical demonstration of the empathy at the heart of theatre, bringing an undertow of love to a furious account of a blunted life."

Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times
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👤 📅9 September 2022
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📷 Main photo: Hans Kesting in Who Killed My Father © Jan Versweyveld

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