Previewed 30 September 2015, Opened 5 October 2015, Closed 21 November 2015 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
Returned 24 February 2016 to 26 March 2016 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London
The return of Florian Zeller new black comedy The Father to London starring Kenneth Cranham.
Now 80 years old, Andre was once a tap dancer. He lives with his daughter Anne and her husband Antoine. Or was he an engineer whose daughter Anne lives in London with her new lover, Pierre? The thing is, he is still wearing his pyjamas, and he canít find his watch. He is starting to wonder if he's losing control.
The cast features Kenneth Cranham as 'Andre'. It is directed by James Macdonald with designs by Miriam Buether, lighting by Guy Hoare and sound by Christopher Shutt.
Translated into English by Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller's play The Father (Le PŤre) is the winner of the 2014 Moliere Award for Best Play. This production returns to the West End following an acclaimed season last year at Wyndham's Theatre when the cast featured Kenneth Cranham as 'Andre' along with Claire Skinner as his daughter 'Anne'. Prior to the West End this production was seen at the Theatre Royal in Bath during October and November 2014 with Kenneth Cranham as 'Andre' and Lia Williams as 'Anne' and a run at the Tricycle Theatre in north-west London in May 2015 which again starred Kenneth Cranham with Claire Skinner taking over the role of 'Anne'.
Kenneth Cranham's recent West End credits include Peter Gill's revival of Patrick Hamilton's Gaslight at the Old Vic Theatre in 2007. He was also the original 'Inspector Goole' in Stephen Daldry's acclaimed multi-award winning revival of JB Priestly's An Inspector Calls for the National Theatre in 1992. James Macdonald's West End directing credits in a revival of David Mamet's play Glengarry Glen Ross starring Jonathan Pryce at the Apollo Theatre in 2007.
When this production opened at the Tricycle Theatre in May 2015, Holly Williams in the Independent highlighted that "Kenneth Cranham gives a terrific performance as Andre, an old man suffering Alzheimer's whoís alternately gruffly difficult, cheerily charming, and pitiably confused; Claire Skinner also excels as his wearied, worried daughter Anne who must decide how best to care for him.... Florian Zeller's writing, directed tautly here by James Macdonald, brilliantly takes us inside Andreís mind." Dominic Maxwell in the Times commented the play "is no exercise in miserabilism. Christopher Hampton's adroit translation of this French play is full of wit, allowing us to enjoy Andrť's intelligence and mischief even as we mourn his fading powers... Kenneth Cranham gives a deeply felt performance with a poise and lack of sentiment that makes his eventual unravelling all the more affecting... as sharp and surprising a play as you'll see all year." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times thought that "the brilliance of Florian Zeller's play is that it doesn't just show us the impact of dementia, it uses the nature of theatre to put us in the same boat as Andre... James Macdonald's excellent, precise staging shifts the tone imperceptibly, while Miriam Buether's set subtly changes from scene to scene... It's devastating." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard praised "Florian Zellerís stunning play is a vision of dementia... Perfectly measured, with enough wit not to seem exhaustingly desolate, The Father achieves an uncomfortably sharp sense of what itís like inside the head of a character losing his grip on reality. It is quietly devastating."
When this production was originally seen at the Theatre Royal in Bath in October 2014, Quentin Letts for the Daily Mail described how "Kenneth Cranham gives a remarkable, soft-spoken performance as a man with Alzheimer's." Dominic Maxwell in the Times commented "this is the first British production of anything by Florian Zeller, but if this wonderfully peculiar, quietly stunning depiction of dementia is anything to go by, we will be seeing a lot more from this award-winning French writer... aided by James Macdonald's typically meticulous and unforced production... This is a controlled, unforgettable portrait of losing your memory, losing your control." Lyn Gardner in the Guardian wrote that "it's a play that constantly confounds expectations and works almost like a thriller... James Macdonald's brilliantly controlled production doesn't stint on the savagery, but finds all the comedy in a situation that has its farcical elements even as the tragedy unfolds." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph said that "The Father, by the 35-year-old French playwright Florian Zeller, is one of the most acute, absorbing and distressing portraits of dementia Iíve ever seen."
"Apart from Yasmina Reza, few French playwrights make it across La Manche. But step forward Florian Zeller, whose remarkable play takes us right inside a man's mind as it is gradually corrupted by Alzheimer's. Zeller's achievement is to create Andre's frightening, shapeshifting world onstage. Sometimes it feels like a thriller... Kenneth Cranham's Andre is like a Parisian King Lear trying to control the world around him. He is angry, difficult, funny and, finally, desolate... Actors worry about losing their memory as they age, which gives James Macdonald's production added intensity. It's one to remember, that is, as long as the memory holds." The Sunday Times
"Just as the ingenious The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time puts one inside the head of a person with Asperger's, so The Father recreates the desperate confusion of someone suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia. It is beautifully adapted by Christopher Hampton from the original by hot French playwright Florian Zeller, and directed with forensic precision by James MacDonald, with the audience seeing and hearing what Kenneth Cranham's elderly Andre feels... The increasingly recurring blanks in his own brain are reflected by Miriam Buether's set, emptying, like his head. With each new scene a picture, vase or chair has vanished. It makes you question the reliability of your own memory." The Mail on Sunday
The Father in London at the Duke of York's Theatre from 24 February to 26 March 2016 - previously seen at the Wyndham's Theatre with previews from 30 September 2015, opened on 5 October 2015 and closed on 21 November 2015