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The Father - Wyndham's Theatre

Yesterday evening the husby and I trotted off to Wyndham's Theatre to see Kenneth Cranham and Claire Skinner in the French play, 'The Father'. Cranham played the father, Andre, and Skinner his daughter, Anne, in what was a 95 minute series of 'pieces', rather like those of a jigsaw, in which each piece was different but related to the whole. The play has earned a raft of 5-star reviews across the press, and all the nationals - and it came to Wyndham's following successful runs in Bath and at the Tricycle. But it came from France initially, where it was awarded one of theatre's highest accolades. So it had a lot to live up to. It helps to know that Cranham as Andre is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's. But apparently I didn't impart this info to my husby - who wondered what was going on for a little while. What struck me particularly as Cranham was through yet another musing on where his watch must be (the constant and confused passing of time) was that he must have so many moments when performing in which he experienced  utter mental paralysis or at least a magnified sense of 'who am I?' The performances of all the cast made clear the utter sense of frustration at living with such a condition - and the sheer anger revealed by 'both' partners of Andre's daughter, at what they felt was an intolerable burden on their lives - I found myself flinching inwardly when Pierre or Antoine verbally and physically bullying Andre in cruel moments. This was an insightful play, the structure clearly representing the fragmented nature of time experienced by the sufferer - but there was also an anti-climactic feeling too, that there was something not quite there; that it was too cold - a bit too 2-D. My Husby gave it a 6 out of ten and I would have to agree. I can do cerebral - even fragmented cerebral - but there needs to be a bit more warmth, too. One last point. We know the play was French, but why keep the same names of the characters? Andre, Antoine, Pierre. And of course the running joke uttered by Andre in response to Anne moving to London being 'it always rains in London!' 




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