Saturday, 8 September 2018

Review: The Height of the Storm

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Height of the Storm.
The Height of the Storm is visiting several theatres across England, including my local theatre in Richmond, before opening at the Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End. This piece is written by Florian Zeller, who's work I am previously familiar with. In 2016, I had the opportunity to see Zeller's 'The Father', which I thought was a masterpiece so I was excited to see what his latest work would bring.

The Height of the Storm follows André and Madeleine, a married couple that have been in love with each other for over fifty years. This weekend, as their daughters visit them, something feels unusual. A bunch of flowers arrives, but who has sent them? A woman from the past has turned up, but who is she? And why does André feel like he isn't there at all? The aspect of Zeller's writing that I will always have admiration for is the realistic way in which he portrays Alzheimer's disease. As someone who has had family members who suffer from such such an illness, I appreciate the fact that Zeller's writing truly does give the audience a truthful insight into what Alzheimer's disease can be like. I do however feel that The Height of the Storm is somewhat of a clone of his previous work, The Father. The Height of the Storm deals with the same issues in a rather similar light, once again portraying an elderly gentleman suffering with Alzheimer's and the way his daughter(s) copes with this. In addition to the resemblance between the two storylines of The Father and The Height of the Storm, the leading character is also named 'André' in both pieces. Having said this, I did feel as if The Height of the Storm was not quite as effective as The Father was. Whilst both pieces search to create a sense of confusion amongst its audience, The Height of the Storm is particularly puzzling; leaving the theatre I heard several audience members discussing the play with one another, each attempting to make sense of what they had just seen. It is an exceedingly perplexing play, and one that would more likely become clearer on second viewing.

Leading the cast of The Height of the Storm are Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins as André and Madeleine, the elderly married couple who have remained in love with one another for over fifty years. Both Pryce and Atkins give captivating performances, skilfully portraying the difficulties of Alzheimer's disease. Portraying the kind-hearted and concerned daughters are Amanda Drew and Anna Madley, as Anne and Elsie. Both Drew and Madley are giving stellar performances; they are both, as are all the cast, a delight to watch onstage.

The featured star of The Height of the Storm is, drum roll please... EILEEN ATKINS!

Eileen Atkins is excellent in the role of Madeline. She excels in both the sadder parts of the play, as well as the more comedic elements to her character. Atkins's performance is flawless.

Now for my final verdict on The Height of the Storm. I give The Height of the Storm...

Despite the fact that The Height of the Storm felt too similar to Zeller's previous work, I still cannot help but admire his realistic take on Alzheimer's disease. In addition to that, the cast are all also phenomenal, and for these reasons I have decided to award this production with three stars.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer