Play by Florian Zeller. Translation by Christopher Hampton.
The Verona Studio
This play delivers! Winner of the 2014 Molière Award for best play, “The Father” takes the audience on a roller coaster ride as Andre, played superbly by Randall Tosh, experiences the onset of dementia and the befuddled mental gymnastics that accompany the illness. Andre’s daughter, Anne (Christa Fenton) struggles to help her father and the patience of her husband Pierre, (played by Mathieu Voisine) is quickly running out: ‘He’s completely lost it Anne’. What is striking about this play is the seemingly innocuous starting point, ‘I can’t find my watch’, which repeats throughout like a signature, a warning light, trying to prepare us for what’s ahead. No-one can be prepared for the maze of repetitions, circularities and slippage of time that slowly but surely engulf Andre’s world. As audience we become unsure of our own perception of ‘reality’ and herein lies the brilliance of Zeller’s writing; each scene is played as ‘real’ but clearly not all of them are. Some are happening only in Andre’s mind. As we experience life as it appears to Andre we understand his reactions and distress. The toll it takes on his daughter is huge and disturbing. As Andre’s grasp on ‘reality’ slips, the set also alters, the world Andre knew, alters and changes, everything he knew becomes ‘different’.
The relationship between Anne and her father, Andre, is key to the success of this play and fortunately Tosh and Fenton are up to the task, not missing a beat, they deliver rich, nuanced performances. There is much to applaud about this play: the selection of the play by the Verona board; the casting of highly talented actors; a truly haunting and wonderful soundtrack and excellent direction. The insightful and cohesive directing of Patricia Wylie melds faultlessly with the design team of Randall Tosh (set) and John Elliot (light and sound), allowing each scene to unfold with music and lighting that anticipate the action of the scene within a set that reveals the increasing disintegration of Andre’s mental ability.
Yes this is a bleak subject matter, thankfully Zeller’s writing, Wylie’s direction and the smart acting of a great company deliver scenes in which laughter and heartbreak are united an expression of the fragility of our humanity. Don’t miss this one, you will not be disappointed!
“… a super-smart, finally heart-breaking play…[an] unqualified triumph …” The Daily Telegraph (UK).
September 28,29. October 5,6. 8 pm. Matinees at 2 pm, Sept. 29, Oct. 6.
The Verona Studio, Reed Opera house,
189 Liberty Street, N.E. Salem.
Box Office: 805-657-7538
Upcoming Plays at the Verona Studio:
Miss Julie by August Strindberg, translated by Michael Meyer, directed by Gregory Jolivette November 29 – December 15, 2018
Photo above: Andre (Randall Tosh) and Pierre (Mathieu Voisine). Photo by Alex Benenson
This story was misattributed in our Sept. 27 print issue, to the wrong author (Helen Caswell).
The true authors were our fine theatre writers, Jade Rosina McCutcheon, and Barbara Sellers-Young.
We regret the error.