Starring Olivier Award winner
Mon 25 – Sat 30 April 2016
Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm
We have two reviews of the show! The first by William Mills followed by a second by Andrew M Collins.
By William Mills
Monday’s opening show was to a near packed house. The stage was a white painted room in a flat in Paris. The story featured Anne’s attempts to care for her father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, a degenerative disease affecting the elderly.
Lasting an hour and 25 minutes, with no interval, it was harrowing, yet riveting viewing. Anne, brilliantly played by Amanda Drew, first visits her father regularly while he continues to live in his own flat. She then tries to arrange daily help. Next her father comes to live with her and her husband.
Andre, Kenneth Cranham, is somewhat confused at what is going on. Various son-in-laws come and go. He is not sure whose flat he is in. Nor who everyone is.
The final scene when he discovers he is in a nursing home and that his daughter has gone to live in London, where it always rains, is truly harrowing.
Brilliant acting but many may find this to be a deeply disturbing play. So be warned!
By Andrew M Collins
THE FATHER – by Florian Zeller
CAST: Kenneth Cranham, Amanda Drew, Rebecca Charles, Brian Doherty, Daniel Flynn and Jade Williams.
“How much longer do you intend hanging around getting on everyone’s tits?”
Direct from its run in London’s West End, Florian Zeller’s dazzling and award winning play The Father (2014 Moliere Award in France), masterfully translated by Christopher Hampton, made a scorching Brighton debut at the Theatre Royal last night.
The play centres around Andre, an 80 year old living in Paris who suffers from that most vicious and devastating of mental diseases, Alzheimer’s. Kenneth Cranham, an award winning veteran of stage and screen, takes the helm and gives one of the best performances of his career.
He is a retired engineer – or perhaps tap dancer – living in Paris. He could be living alone, or living with his daughter, Anne – we are unsure.
Anne (Amanda Drew) has been looking after her father for some time, and is at her wit’s end.
He has already caused his previous carer to leave due to his cantankerous, confused outbursts.
Anne has found a replacement, the effervescent Laura (Jade Williams), who she introduces to Andre. The two have an immediate rapport.
Complications are introduced when Anne’s partner Pierre (Daniel Flynn) appears on the scene.
He is resentful over her father’s emotional manipulations, and indeed sick and tired of dealing with his illness. Over the course of the drama, Brian Doherty and Rebecca Charles incarnate as imagined alter egos of Anne and her partner. Characters become interchangeable, identities swapped.
The plotting all takes place from Andre’s point of view.
Scenes and set changes are ingeniously done in front of us, indicating the blanks in his mind being filled in with his limited grasp of reality.
Furniture slowly disappears over time to finally leave a barren void. Music plays in these brief interludes, but with glitches and awkward repeats, emphasising his mental breakdown.
As we peer into the dark stage trying to follow his thought process, a jarring photic burst from a huge square strip of LED lights around the periphery stage jolt us into the next scene. It’s a neat device.
From the warm and comical opening, The Father, over its unbroken course of 90 minutes, descends into a painful world of unreal imaginings, fear and longing for the unbroken past.
The mercurial Kenneth Cranham is outstanding his Andre. Despite his demanding outbursts and awkward desperation to maintain control he manages to elicit our sympathy throughout.
The excruciatingly acute and poignant ending left the audience reeling.
The play stretches our limits of compassion and drives home the vital need to make the best use of your time and mental faculties while you have them left.
The play garnered a host of five star national reviews and unanimous praise from its two West End runs. The Father won the 2014 Moliere Award for Best Play and earlier this week, Kenneth Cranham took home the Olivier Award for Best Actor for his unforgettable performance.
Written by one of France’s most celebrated living playwrights Florian Zeller, with a crisp and witty translation by Christopher Hampton, The Father has dazzled audiences and critics alike since it first opened and received an unprecedented TEN five star reviews from major national newspaper critics.
Now 80 years old, Andre was once a tap dancer. He lives with his daughter Anne and her husband Antoine. Or was he an engineer whose daughter Anne lives in London with her new lover, Pierre? The thing is, he is still wearing his pyjamas, and he can’t find his watch. He is starting to wonder if he’s losing control.
Author of this intriguing and compelling drama, Florian Zeller, has been hailed as “one of the hottest literary talents in France” (The Independent). The Father (Le Père) was the recipient of three Molière Awards in 2014, France’s highest theatrical honour, including the Molière for Best New Play.
One of the country’s most illustrious actors, Kenneth Cranham’s myriad credits include An Inspector Calls on Broadway. His many West End stage credits include Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Loot, The Birthday Party and Gaslight. He has performed at London’s Royal Court and the National Theatre on numerous occasions. On television, he played the title role in Shine on Harvey Moon; and his extensive credits range from Merlin, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Line of Beauty and Rome, to Our Mutual Friend, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and El Cid. His film work includes Maleficent, Made in Dagenham, Valkyrie, Hot Fuzz, Layer Cake, Oliver!, Two Men Went to War, The Boxer, Under Suspicion, Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Chocolat. For his role in The Father, Kenneth won the 2015 Critics Circle Award for Best Actor.
Amanda Drew plays Andre’s daughter. Her theatre credits include Three Days in the Country (National Theatre), Love and Information (Royal Court) and Enron (Royal Court, West End) whilst her TV credits include EastEnders. Rebecca Charles and Jade Williams play their original roles as Woman and Laura respectively and are joined by Brian Doherty and Daniel Flynn.
Christopher Hampton has translated plays by Ibsen, Molière, Chekhov and Yasmina Reza including Art and Life x 3. He won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the adaptation of his own play, Dangerous Liaisons. He was Academy Award-nominated again in 2007 for adapting Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement. His television work includes adaptations of The History Man and Hotel du Lac.
Director James Macdonald has worked extensively Off-Broadway where he was recently the winner of the 2014 Obie Award for Best Director for Love and Information. He was Associate Director of the Royal Court from 1992 to 2007 and his numerous credits include Blasted, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You, the European and US tours of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis, Exiles at the National Theatre and Glengarry Glen Ross in the West End. The production is designed by Miriam Buether, with lighting by Guy Hoare and sound by Christopher Shutt.
0844 871 7650***
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