★★★★★ | Delicately humorous and emotionally charged.
CREDIT: Simon Annand
Alzheimer’s disease is unkind, unforgiving and takes away the dignity that one once held strongly in the younger years. Though there is research to show what the brain looks like in comparison to one without the disease, it is still a mystery to how it comes about and why. The Father combines it all and puts you in role as a sufferer of Alzheimer’s in a mind-maze like no other.
Originally created by Florian Zeller, and adapted by Christopher Hampton, The Father is a story of André but from the point of view of his daughter, who is struggling to cope, as it starts with her father losing his watch and accusing the nurse of stealing it, but then it progresses for the worse from then on. As an audience member, you feel for both sides, and though you may be inclined to lend sympathy mostly towards the family, you are given a picture to what it must be like to forget everything, and the frustration of trying to recall what happened a moment earlier.CREDIT: Simon Annand
André is played by the legend Kenneth Cranham, whose role in The Father has entrusted him with two nominations for Best Actor at both Critic’s Circle and Olivier Awards. The attainment of the two awards would be more than deserving after watching one of the best performances in all my reviewing time. Kenneth played André delicately, with each muscle used to express the correct emotion and body language; it was darkly humorous with his ‘charming ways’ in which he put on as an act to impress newcomers; heart-breaking particularly at the end when he lost everything and acted like young boy. Amanda Drew did a formidable job at playing Anne, his daughter. Anne carried a burden that many will relate to when it comes to looking after an elderly member of the family. I know this too well from my family having done the same for my grandparents. It is a bittersweet move, for you love them so much, you want them close to you, but as they deteriorate, it becomes unfortunately chore like. It is heart-wrenching as you cling on to the memories of the before, and try to paint that vision onto the person you see today, that is sadly no longer there.
The semiotics of the production were fantastic also, with blackouts at the end of every scene, and after the lights came back on, a piece of furniture would escape with it. It made you question your own sanity and would ask yourself, ‘Didn’t that table have four chairs?’ The symbolism of the broken record playing in the blackouts was an added metaphor that signalled the repetition factor.