French Playwright Florian Zeller's Tony and Olivier award-winning triumph, The Father, is taking audiences by surprise and leaving them speechless at the Fugard Theatre under direction of Greg Karvellas.
There is a subtle heartbreak to Zeller’s play. Cloaked in sharp-witted humour, it catches you off guard, and hurls you into a whirlpool of emotions. It reveals great depth in the multi-layered brilliance and nuances of the Christopher Hampton translated text, skillfully staged by director Karvellas with the aid of an exquisitely talented cast.
A legend in his own right, Marius Weyers leads the cast on their journey of confusion, as a man grappling with the uncontrollable changes around and within him. He lures the audience into his perceived world, and there you linger with him trying to decipher and distinguish the fearful reality from his memory grasping moments of escapism. He carries the dementia informed entrapment theme of the play, but Anthea Thompson as the daughter to Weyer’s father truly steps up as the personified backbone, spirit and perhaps even nerve of the narrative that reveals itself as the emotive (under)tone of the play. Together Thompson and Weyers present the perfect balance onstage, and create an energy that amplifies the stellar performances of Emily Child, Brent Palmer, Nicholas Pauling and Amy Louise Wilson too.
The Father tackles the truth of dementia with great respect and understanding for the love, frustration and fear felt by those for whom it has come calling, whether as patients or as affected loved-ones. Days after seeing The Father, it still has a great emotive impact on me: it lingers, prods, forces you to pause and reflect, in a very direct yet also kind manner. It is one of those theatre experiences that grabs hold of your heart with both hands, to subtly squeeze out those feelings of fear we tend to run away from. It in fact shines a light on issues that are usually avoided in general conversation, whether out of fear for the unknown or more so even the known.
Ultimately, it masterfully unravels the reality of one man as he desperately tries to hang onto the perceived certainty of time, while he unwittingly wanders further and further into the labyrinth of his own mind. This theme is not only vividly highlighted by the emotive firework moments as acted out, but also by the artistic expression and framework added to it by the set and lighting design of Rocco Pool and Kieran McGregor respectively.
The Father, onstage at the Fugard Theatre until 3 December 2016, is an all-round heart clenching masterpiece. Beautifully nuanced, it is equal parts tears and laughter; unquestionably a must see. Challenge your theatrical boundaries, break through the fear and go experience this emotional roller-coaster by booking your tickets at Computicket today already!