Review: The Height of the Storm

I’m back.

After two years of only blogging about travel (check it out over here), I decided I was going to end my silence over here. I continue to pay for the domain and I also continue to see a lot of theatre, despite the fact that I don’t work in the industry anymore.

In all honesty, you’re way more likely to get an honest opinion out of me because I will never be working on one of the shows I see!

Anyway! Last week I saw Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of The Height of the Storm, currently playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on West 47th Street. I wanted to see it because Jonathan Pryce is fantastic – the original Engineer in Miss Saigon! And this was a transfer from London and usually, the critics over there are on top of their shit.

It was also the best length a show could possibly be: Ninety minutes, no intermission.

It’s weird how all people who consider themselves “theatre people” LOVE this expression and its meaning. Like, we are the people who LOVE theatre and spend a vast majority of our time sitting in a tiny cramped seat but we also lose our shit over a show that is short and has no intermission.

Is it because of our ever-diminishing attention spans? Quite possibly.

As I was saying, there’s no way that this could be bad, right? But I also had no idea what it was about because I didn’t bother to read a synopsis. Was it about a literal storm? Or was it a metaphor for something else? This is the synopsis on MTC’s website: “For 50 years the lives of André and Madeleine have been filled with the everyday pleasures and unfathomable mysteries of an enduring marriage, until suddenly their life together begins to unravel, and this loving relationship is faced with the inevitability of change.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t bother to read that before I saw the play either because that wouldn’t have helped me at all.

To be quite frank: I have never been so confused during a play (this includes at off-off-Broadway shows and the Fringe Festival) as I was during The Height of the Storm. My friend, with whom I was at the theatre, looked at each other multiple times, mouthing, “What is going on?”

It was like a not-scary version of the movie The Others but you never actually found out what was going on.

At times it was implied that Pryce’s character had passed away.

At times it was implied that Atkin’s character had passed away.

At times they were on stage together, and they were both alive with their children.

I tried to look for subtle shifts in the lighting or slight costume changes that could signify when someone was physically present in a scene, as opposed to a ghost on the sidelines. But I couldn’t spot anything to give any clues.

When I Googled reviews of the play, I read that it was about dementia and aging. Okay, that makes sense. Sort of, I guess. I don’t know.

BUT on a more positive note: everyone onstage gave fantastic performances. Jonathan Pryce was amazing. Eileen Atkins was extremely moving. Lucy Cohu, Amanda Drew, James Hillier (who you’d recognize from The Crown), and Lisa O’Hare as their children and one of their child’s spouses also gave nuanced performances.

Unsurprisingly, I’m going to say this play is not for everyone. It is probably only for dedicated theatre-goers and even then, please do your research before you go so you have some idea of what’s going on.

If I missed a huge plot point somewhere, please let me know below in the comments. I’m more than happy to admit I’m wrong when it comes to my interpretations of theatre, or to even be told what this show was truly about.

This Is How All The Bret Easton Ellis Novels Fit Together

Someone posted this recently and I was super intrigued. I would think that there are probably other writers out there who have done this but the only one that I’ve read that comes to mind is Emily Giffin. Giffin’s characters are somewhat related in three of her books, but how Ellis put characters from one book into another who supposedly were killed by Bateman in American Psycho is super cool. It actually made me want to read all of his books. But.

BUT.

I’m currently reading American Psycho…. and it’s a painful read. Bateman and his friend’s shallow materialism and his need to identify where every last item on his person came from is dreadful. I’ve been reading it for a couple of weeks now and I’m only 160 pages in (out of 400-ish). I’m starting to lose hope that I’ll finish it. But I think I have to. i know that I’m not required to finish every book I start but I like to. We’ll see what happens.

In other news: American Psycho the musical is getting pretty good reviews from regular people. I know it’s going to be a super polarizing show (not every one will like a musical about a banker who’s going insane and killing his friends) but I read that the first look you get in the show is amazing and so far everything is impressive. Currently it’s super long (just under 3 hours) but I’m sure they’ll cut it down a bunch before April 5th.

Has anyone else read American Psycho? 

This Is How All The Bret Easton Ellis Novels Fit Together