Fringe Box



Stage Dragon Review: The Father At The Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 31 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 1 Apr, 2016

If you have experienced the slow descent of a relative into confusion and frustration because of dementia, you will know where this play is coming from.

“Do I know you?” my declining mother used to ask and that begged the question that what she really wanted to understand was: “Who am I? I know there is something wrong with me but I don’t know what it is.”

Kenneth Cranham as Andre in the Father. He moves from a clever and charming man to a shambling, vulnerable and child-like.

Kenneth Cranham as Andre in The Father. Dementia moves him from being a clever and charming man to being child-like, shambling and vulnerable.

So, it isn’t the odd behaviour or the accusations of petty theft from Andre, brilliantly played by Kenneth Cranham, which is troubling. It is watching him struggle to try to put the pieces together, knowing that he knows that something is wrong and yet, he is utterly unable to be comforted or have the ever changing puzzle solved.

He manages to look in control when we first encounter him but we soon see the insidious tide of confusion play around him.

The unpredictable changing characters of his daughter, her husband and carers, played by Amanda Drew, Daniel Flynn, Jade Williams Brian Doherty and Rebecca Charles, all add to his confusion.

While the play was curiously emotionally flat, it was heart–breaking to see Andre’s change from independence to a cowed vulnerability when he was bullied and struck by a relative.

Shocking to witness it, even more shocking to realise how easily it could happen in real life.

Kenneth Cranham as Andre in The Father.

Kenneth Cranham as Andre in The Father.

The gradual stripping of the set from elegant Parisian flat to empty white shell and the manic Bach piano getting more and more erratic, both mirrored his mental deterioration.

Wittily written by Florian Zeller and translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, The Father is the winner of France’s highest theatrical honour, the 2014 Molière Award for Best Play.

Kenneth Cranham is superb in the title role, for which he won Best Actor at The Critics Circle Awards this year.

The Father runs at the Yvonne Arnuad Theatre until Saturday, April 2.

You can book tickets by calling the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre box office on 01483 440000 or by visiting the website at

Star rating 4


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Responses to Stage Dragon Review: The Father At The Yvonne Arnaud

  1. Fiona Curtis Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Quite brilliant, on so many levels.

    Very clever the way the characters switch to puzzle the audience allowing you to feel the confusion of the main character.

    The daughter is being pulled in every direction as she tries to deal with the loss of losing her Father whilst he sits in front of her whilst trying to balance a home life with a man who has become unsympathetic and angry about the impact on his own life.

    An amazing play. Maybe because the subject matter resonates, I returned feeling as one might after a funeral. Saddened by it, but glad I went.

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