Kenneth Cranham – Andre
Amanda Drew – Anne
Daniel Flynn – Pierre
Jade Williams – Laura
Brian Doherty – Man
Rebecca Charles – Woman
Date: Wednesday 20th April 2016
Venue: Theatre Royal (Newcastle)
The Father is a play about Andre a man who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and how he is now perceiving his life, what he can remember of it. We are given parts of his life in short bursts and it is helping to show how confused his brain has become. We reach a point where, as an audience member we too are unsure to what is “real” and what he thinks which was a very interesting way to go for the play. What did he do in life before and how many daughters did he actually have? But with all that we get a little bit of humour as well, something I think was even more important to highlight, he was a very charming man and managed to keep some of that.
Kenneth Cranham’s performance was truly fantastic and I can now fully understand and appreciate exactly why he won the best actor award at the recent Olivier Awards. Very pleasing that he has toured with the show. It really was remarkable watching him act on stage in what has to be a very difficult and demanding role. I really do believe seeing him perform is an honour and something very special. It must be exhausting for him to take on the role eight times a week, but something he must also enjoy. I think the passion in which we see from him at times really shows that, some parts are so haunting. The end scene in a bed in particular with him screaming, that will stay with me for a while yet.
We get to see some fantastic moments with Cranham and Amanda Drew as his suffering daughter who really cannot take watching her Father go through this truly awful process. We are left wondering what was actually going on and which parts were true between the pair. Drew brought another side to having to deal with Alzheimer’s from the point of view of the family and how it destroys the family as well as that person. It really was a dramatic and difficult to watch role.
The other supporting roles worked very well as we also see some actors take on more than one role as Andre is struggling to remember who is who and this is certainly a very important aspect. Especially when you doubt who is who in the audience especially when his daughter Anne changed quite early on, it certainly made you think about things differently.
The set started out as a very full apartment and between the moments, which we saw a blackout with lights around the stage each and every time we came back to a moment something was gone from the stage. I thought this was very interesting to coincide with Andre’s mind and everything was leaving from it. Just another layer to the play, especially as it didn’t look like much was going to happen with the set which was pretty much a room with two doors leading to it. I certainly wasn’t expecting that.
I am really pleased to say I have seen this play and hope that more people manage to see it. Certainly a good way to raise awareness of how Alzheimer’s can be for all different people involved, we see that in the different characters. I guess this was a little bit of a risky play to go and see considering one of my Nanna’s suffered from this before she died and it really was a very awful thing to deal with someone you love not having any idea who you, especially when you meant so much to them.
A much deserved standing ovation from the audience as well, truly heartbreaking yet unique and powerful.