Fusion to bring 'The Height of the Storm' back to the stage

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Nov. 5—In "The Height of the Storm," memories move like water, ebbing, flowing and ricocheting within the continuum of life.

French playwright Florian Zeller's portrait opens on a stormy day with a family comprised of a mother, a father, two daughters and the mysterious figures of a man and a woman.

One of them may be dead; we don't know who.

Fusion Theatre is staging the play from Nov. 9-19 at 708 First St. NW.

"It's this intense page-turner; from one line to the next, it shifts," said director Jacqueline Reid. "It's about kindness and presence with one another. It's about what you are able to see. It also gets into how we deal with trauma, how we deal with loss."

One of the couple's daughters brings a friend home for a visit.

"The father is a very famous writer," Reid said. "Something has happened that's bringing everybody into the house. You're not really clear about what's going on."

The father André is one of those roaring, selfish literary lions familiar from novels and movies. His wife Madeleine is practical and self-denying. They live in a mansion in the Paris suburbs while seeming to age gracefully.

But signs reveal that someone has died. Flowers arrive. Their daughter Anne reads André's journals, contemplating posthumous publication.

"You're going OK, here are the relationships and you're very certain," Reid said. "One word, and you go into another direction."

The play meticulously charts the intimacies and tensions of family life.

An epilogue offers an explanation.

"Anybody with transitioning parents, downsizing, any adult parent who has gotten very used to the kids being out of the house — this shows both sides of the biological timeline," Reid said.

"The Height of the Storm" opened on Broadway in 2019, then disappeared, Reid said. She tracked down the French playwright's British agent for permission to stage it.