The Father (2014) by Florian Zeller
HK English Speaking Union
- Tue 15-01-2019 7:15 PM - 2 h
Refreshments are available at the Fringe Club.
ESU and Fringe Club January Play-Reading:
Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw
The Father is a contemporary play translated from the original drama, Le Père, which premiered in Paris in September 2012, and won the Molière Award for Best Play in 2014. Written by French novelist and playwright Florian Zeller, Le Père was translated to English by Christopher Hampton, who is well-known for his own plays and his translation-adaptations to theatre script and screenplay, especially of the notorious Laclos novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses in the 1980s. Kenneth Cranham and Frank Langella, lead actors in the title role, won the Laurence Olivier Award (U.K.) and the Tony Award (U.S.) for best actors respectively in the English language productions of The Father. In 2017 The Father was performed in Cantonese by Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, and Fredric Mao Chun Fai and Fung Wai Hang were awarded Best Actor and Best Director in the category of tragedy/drama respectively.
The main characters in The Father are André, who suffers from dementia, and his daughter Anne, who juggles her time between her father, her boyfriend, and her job. André is self-assured one moment, and uncertain the next. He cannot be sure whether he has remained in his own flat or where he has placed his watch, for example. He rejects all the carers hired by Anne, and he is at time suspicious of her intentions, even though she attends to him conscientiously. Anne’s boyfriend, Pierre, proposes sending André to an institution to relieve her pressure and frustration. Some scenes and snippets are repeated with slight variation, and the audience wonders which one, if any, is the reality, and which one is a result of Andre’s memory recall with gaps and errors.
Other plays and films explore the issues of dementia within a family, but The Father allows the audience to observe the world through André’s eyes and ailing mind, thereby increasing our sense of empathy for and engagement with all of the protagonists. Described as a tragic farce in terms of its genre, this unsettling play presents a brutally honest depiction of the uncertainties of living with dementia - both as the one who sufferers mental disintegration and those who can only attempt to remedy its effects on their loved one. Zeller creates a deliberately ambiguous world in his script which was brilliantly matched by its production design in critically acclaimed performances in Paris, New York, London and Hong Kong among other cities.