Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review: The Father at the Wyndham's Theatre

The Father
Wyndham's Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 5th October 2015

Following its premiere in Bath and sold out London run at the Tricycle, Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Florian Zeller's play The Father has transferred to the West End. I fully stand by what I wrote after first seeing the piece back in May: The Father is one of the best plays I have seen all year. 

The Father follows dementia patient Andre (Kenneth Cranham) as he loses his grip of reality. There is more to James Macdonald's disorientating production than first meets the eye. The opening scenes are very confusing, but it soon becomes clear that we are seeing the world through Andre's eyes. Years flash by in the blink of an eye and key characters appear and disappear within seconds. It is truly remarkable to share Andre's confusion; The Father allows audiences to think about dementia with a different level of understanding. 

The play works so superbly as it also delves into how dementia affects loved ones. Claire Skinner plays Andre's daughter, Anne, who finds it incredibly tough to cope with her father's deterioration whilst grieving for her sister and focusing on relationship troubles. 

The Father isn't all doom and gloom - many scenes, particularly in the first thirty minutes, are very funny. Running for ninety minutes without an interval, rarely is the piece uncomfortable to watch. It doesn't leave you feeling deeply depressed, although you can't help but feel the impact of the story as the cast take their bows. 

Cranham's performance is stellar; he brings such heart to his performance of Andre. Often seen in his pyjamas searching for his watch, one minute Andre boasts of once being a tap dancer and the next we're told he was actually an engineer. Skinner is equally as strong; her performance is simple yet endearing. There is occasional wooden acting from the supporting cast, but overall the company excel alongside Cranham and Skinner. 

The Father is a strikingly relevant piece of theatre and I think it's absolutely brilliant to see a play of its kind in the West End. There is no denying that Zeller's piece is absolutely devastating; but it is also an eye opening and thought provoking experience. With impeccable direction, set design and sound design, The Father makes its mark and isn't a play you can forget in a hurry.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Father runs at the Wyndham's Theatre until 21st November 2015.
Please visit www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Simon Annand

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