Florian Zeller’s internationally acclaimed and theatrically thrilling
is an exploration of who we are to ourselves
when our signposts disappear.
Winner of the 2014 Molière Award for France’s Best Play, the play allows us to see things through the confused eyes of Andre, as he struggles to make sense of a progressively befuddling world. Sound grim? It’s not.
THE FATHER is a carefully constructed theatrical adventure and an explorative emotional experience. Florian Zeller uses dramatic structure to mimic the state of a mind deteriorating through dementia. Each scene is an elliptical extended snapshot – it seems to evoke a memory, but quickly the absurdist contradictions crowd in.
The Play has won rave reviews and multiple awards since its premiere in France in 2014. It was translated into English by famed British playwright Christopher Hampton and has now played on both the West End and Broadway, becoming one of the biggest hit plays of the last few years.
An old man is home in his apartment as people come and go. We look inside the mind of Andre, this retired dancer living with his adult daughter Anne, and her boyfriend. Or is it her first husband? And is she really moving to London? Laura, his new caregiver, the one he seems to like, keeps him company. So then why would she steal his watch?The play that constantly confounds expectations and works almost like a thriller, with a sinister Pinteresque edge, as complete strangers keep on turning up in Andre’s flat.
Whether he fully understands it or not, Andre is reaching the end of his time on this planet, and he’s starting to lose grip on his sense of time and reality. Unlike Lear, he doesn’t have a kingdom to bequeath, but he has his Parisian flat, which he desperately doesn’t want to leave after three decades of living. But he’s starting to forget things, both big and small. As for time, well, that’s the most slippery proposition of all. For André, his watch is his anchor, and he says he’s always had two: one for the wrist, one in his head. He always seems to be losing that cherished wristwatch. Which means that he must keep time by the clock in his head. The head that we, the audience, enter theatrically as we begin to perceive the world thru his eyes.
The Times of London wrote that Mr. Zeller’s “masterful, well-mannered mix of laughter and desolation puts you into the mind-set of someone in the midst of mental decay like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
Director Burt Tepfer comments on the play. “What is it like, as Andre says in the play, to be ‘losing your leaves?’ In the play we see, from the inside out, the confusion, rage, vulnerability, incomplete memories, fantasies, and fears of a previously powerful man who is experiencing the loss of his world through dementia. The play, ingeniously wrought to show how this decline and loss of capacity is felt by the sufferer, is crafted superbly with honesty, pathos and with surprising humor.
“The loyal efforts by his daughter to help him only lead to conflict about what needs and desires of his are to be honored. When is he no longer able to care for himself, and how does it feel to lose control of where you live? The play raises so many questions we are all contemplating....That's why I love it."
Florian Zeller, has been hailed as ‘one of the hottest literary talents in France.’ Along with Frances’ Molière Award for the Best Play 2014, The Father received a Tony for Best Play Nomination when it arrived on Broadway in 2016, with a Tony win for Frank Langella in the leading role of Adrian. “I wrote the play the way one has a dream — that is to say, unconscious of where I was going,” Mr. Zeller said recently. “And it wasn’t until almost the end that I said to myself, ‘Ah, that’s what I was talking about, about senile dementia, about Alzheimer’s, about the moment when one loses one’s faculties, one’s sense of who one is.’”
The Signposts begin to disappear.