Reviewed on Tuesday 12th May 2015
Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Florian Zeller's play The Father is one of the best plays I have seen all year. Not only does your heart break as you watch Kenneth Cranham portray a man called Andre who is slowly losing his grip of reality, but we also see how dementia impacts and affects loved ones.
James Macdonald's production is remarkably clever. At first the piece is disorientating - it's hard to work out exactly what is going on - but it soon becomes clear that we are being shown the world though Andre's eyes with years flashing by in the blink of an eyelid. Sharing his confusion enables the audience to feel compassion and understanding on a whole new level.
Cranham's performance is stellar, it's impossible not to grow fond of Andre who, on occasion, is a larger than life man who thinks he knows what he wants. Often seen in his pyjamas searching for his watch, one minute Andre boasts about once being a tap dancer and the next we're told he was an engineer. As he loses control, Cranham allows the audience to see the pain behind Andre's eyes.
Claire Skinner plays Andre's daughter, Anne. Skinner's performance is beautifully rounded as we see Anne constantly trying to do the right thing. Skinner accurately portrays just how challenging and draining the situation can be for loved ones. As well as trying to find a carer her father gets along with, Anne has relationships to focus on and life decisions to make. She's constantly torn and finds it hard to cope when the roles are reversed in the relationship she shares with her father.
Whilst Zeller does find some room for humour, many scenes are deeply upsetting and profoundly moving. The Father is a researched play which is strikingly relevant - hats off to the Tricycle for transferring it from the Ustinov Studio in Bath to London.
Zeller's play is absolutely devastating; every detail from the set to the sound to the direction and performances enhance the production to the max. The Father makes its mark and will stay at the forefront of my mind for months to come. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
The Father runs at the Tricycle Theatre until 13th June 2015. Please visit www.tricycle.co.uk for further information and tickets.
Photo Credit: Simon Annand