THEATRE REVIEW: The Father ★★★★
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
14th May 2016
In 2014, French playwright Florian Zeller won the Molière Award for Best Play, for his production of The Father, translated to Le Pere, in the country. Kenneth Cranham in the role of Andre was incredible, portraying the character in a witty and comedic sense from right from the start, having the audience in hysterics. His charm and charisma throughout made him believable and realistic in the role, and considering this was the final day of the 7 week tour they have been on, the whole production still felt incredibly fresh throughout, between himself and the rest of the actors on stage.
This was a production about one man’s determination with Alzheimer’s and memory loss, and it was fascinating to watch this being done through the eyes of Andre, where we meet the people in his life who are there for him in the final days and weeks of his life, most notably Anne, Andre’s daughter, played by the beautiful and marvellous Amanda Drew. Her chemistry with Cranham was impeccable, and her emotion was so raw, and as mentioned above, fresh, that you really felt like you were getting a unique performance from herself and Cranham.
The play travelled from one scene to another in an almost vignette style sense, feeling like each segment was a different episode, or diary entry, of a certain aspect of Andre’s life. Other characters that came into the play were Laura, the daytime home career, Antonie, Anne’s boyfriend who is increasing being frustrated having his not father in law living in the same home as him and Anne, and Pierre, Anne’s previous husband, to who bullies Andre.
These characters were perfect additions to the production, and as the scenes move through, and the set slowing started being stripped away to reflect the deterioration of the brain and memory, actors swapped roles, leaving you questioning what was really or not, and that was what was extremely powerful; you were watching this play through Andre’s eyes, and that was heartbreaking to see, especially when we watched him cower away to his room when the actor of Pierre, who was hitting him only moments earlier, changed to Antoine, and we just knew exactly what was going through Andre’s head.
The day’s performances at The Everyman marked the end of the tour for this production, but if It was to travel further, I would not hesitate to urge anyone I knew to watch, because no matter how emotional you may find it, weather you have lived through something similar with a family member or not, this was a production not to miss!