A Voyage Round My Father

John Mortimer's autobiographical play is the affectionate portrait of a son's relationship with his father. Growing up in the shadow of the brilliant barrister, who adored his garden and hated visitors, and whose blindness was never mentioned, the son continually yearns for his father's love and respect.

Original London Production 1970 at the Greenwich Theatre

Original West End Production 1971 at the Haymarket Theatre

1st West End Revival 2006 at the Donmar Warehouse and Wyndham's Theatre

Barrister, playwright, novelist and raconteur, John Mortimer is best known for his Rumpole of the Bailey stories. He is also the author of numerous film scripts including Cider with Rosie and Zeffirelli's Tea with Mussolini.

"I grew up the only child of a blind barrister and a mother who devoted her life to caring for him, in what was then a remote part of the Chiltern Hills" writes John Mortimer, the author of A Voyage Round My Father. "After my father's death I began to write scenes about growing up with him and finally turned them into a play. I still live in the house he built and try to keep the garden in the state to which he had accustomed it, although I have never managed to grow nectarines, as he did, on the terrace. And I can reassure the anti-blood sports groups by saying that I no longer drown the earwigs. Sometimes I think my father never seriously taught me the difference between right and wrong, and I'm quite confused about that to this day. But in what I read and what I write, and perhaps in my general attitude to life, it is his standards that I still refer to because he taught me everything. I hope that becomes clear in my play A Voyage Round My Father."

Original London Production 1970 - with Mark Dignam and David Wood

Previewed 24 November 1970, Opened 25 November 1970, Closed 19 December 1970 at the Greenwich Theatre

The cast featured Mark Dignam as 'Father', Betty Huntley Wright as 'Mother', David Wood as 'Son', and Amanda Barry as the daughter-in-law 'Elizabeth'.

Directed by Claude Whatham with designs by Mike Porter.

Original West End Production 1971 - with Alec Guiness and Jeremy Brett / Michael Redgrave and Barry Justice

Opened 4 August 1971, Closed 14 October 1972 at the Haymarket Theatre

The original cast (up to Saturday 1 April 1972) featured Alec Guiness as 'Father', Leueen MacGrath as 'Mother', Jeremy Brett as 'Son', and Nicola Pagett as the daughter-in-law 'Elizabeth'.

The 'second' cast (from Monday 3 April 1972 to 14 October 1972) featured Michael Redgrave as 'Father', Jane Baxter as 'Mother', Barry Justice as 'Son', and Amanda Murray as the daughter-in-law 'Elizabeth'.

Directed by Ronald Eyre with sets by Voytek (Wojciech Roman Pawel Jerzy Szendzikowski), costumes by Daphne Dare, and lighting by Robert Ornbo.

1st West End Revival 2006 - with Derek Jacobi and Dominic Rowan

Previewed 8 June 2006, Opened 13 June 2006, Closed 5 August 2006 at the Donmar Warehouse
Previewed 14 September 2006, Opened 21 September 2006, Closed 16 December 2006 at the Wyndham's Theatre

A major revival of John Mortimer's A Voyage Round My Father in London starring Derek Jacobi

The cast at the Donmar Warehouse and the West End's Wyndham's Theatre featured Derek Jacobi as 'Father', Joanna David as 'Mother', Dominic Rowan as 'Son', and Natasha Little as the daughter-in-law 'Elizabeth', with Christopher Benjamin, Lily Bevan, Neil Boorman, Osmund Bullock, Jamie De Courcey, Sadie Shimmin, and Katie Warren.

Directed by Thea Sharrock with movement by Jane Gibson, designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Gregory Clarke.

Derek Jacobi was last seen in London's West End in Michael Grandage's revival of Friedrich Schiller's play Don Carlos at the Gielgud Theatre in 2005.

Thea Sharrock's recent London theatre directing credits include Gerald Sibleyras' comedy Heroes starring Richard Griffiths, John Hurt and Ken Stott at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2005; and Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit starring Penelope Keith at the Savoy Theatre in 2004.

"This is John Mortimer's best play, a play hilariously and profoundly English, so profoundly as to be universal... Thea Sharrock's production is spare, precise and moving: the actors play together like an orchestra of minds... Derek Jacobi creates... a masterful performance, towering, touching and tragic: one of the great events of the year." The Sunday Times

"All Aboard, All Aboard! Sir John Mortimer's autobiographical pleasure cruise A Voyage Round My Father is departing from the Donmar for a gentle pootle round upper-middle-class family life between the wars... A Voyage may not take us very far, but it's a stylish little outing." The Sunday Telegraph

"'Describe them for me. Paint me the picture,' the father commands his grownup son in John Mortimer's funny, moving, autobiographical play as they walk around the blind old man's beloved garden inspecting the dahlias and bagging the earwigs. Obedient Son does the inspecting, the slaughter and the describing; irascible, eccentric Father provides a waspish, witty commentary. Ever since Father lost his sight, Son has been his eyes. Father never thanks him and is frequently critical of his efforts. But Son never stops trying to please... While this brilliant barrister father is clearly an inspiration, his disability forces his son into a submissive, compliant position. Invariably, Father sets the agenda, and stages an inexhaustible, dazzling performance. Wife and Son merely provide a tirelessly appreciative audience... Thea Sharrock's absorbing revival cannot disguise the rambling-nature of the piece, which prods amusingly at random upper-middleclass absurdities. The acting, however, is first-rate. Derek Jacobi plays the father as both testy and testing, an admirable but also appalling egomaniac who, for all his intellect, is a hollow man. Joanna David is a sweet and stalwart wife and Dominic Rowan affecting as the son who labours in his father's shadow." The Mail on Sunday

"Those in search of clues to the Mortimer autobiography, especially the fascination with the eccentricities of the British legal system which was to lead him to Rumpole, could do worse than start here... Over the years of the play's many revivals on stage and small screen, Mortimer's father has been played by a range of distinguished actors including Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness. In the present cast Derek Jacobi brings an unexpectedly poetic quality of gentle resignation, declining to suggest the monster in the man. Thea Sharrock's new production is blessed with strong performances from Joanna David as the mother, Dominic Rowan as the son and Christopher Benjamin as a memorably dotty headmaster, but it remains Jacobi's evening." The Daily Express

A Voyage Round My Father in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 14 September 2006, opened on 21 September 2006 and closed on 16 December 2006.