The Father

Written by Florian Zeller

Wednesday 7th to Saturday 10th February 2024

Directed by Roger Niven

AuthorFlorian Zeller (translated by Christopher Hampton)

Florian Zeller is a French playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. He came to prominence with his third novel, The Fascination of Evil, which was awarded the Prix Goncourt (an esteemed French literary prize). His 2012 play, 'The Father', won the Molière Award for Best Play and was subsequently translated into English by Christopher Hampton. The English translation garnered critical acclaim both on Broadway and the West End, and was adapted into the 2020 film of the same name. Zeller and Hampton shared the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for their work on the film. Zeller's 2017 play, The Truth, won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy, and his subsequent plays include The Height of the Storm (2018), The Mother (2019), and The Son (2019). His plays have been staged in more than 45 countries.

PlayThe Father

Andre is a man facing persecution from all sides, and he refuses to take it any longer. First some girl, a “helper” -- whom he doesn’t need at all -- steals his favorite watch. Then his daughter Anne, a scheming woman who worries too much, tries to take his flat away -- the beautiful flat he’s had for over thirty years, in which he is still quite capable of living, thank you very much! His daughter Elise, the one he actually loves… where is she? She never comes to visit. Anne’s husband -- or lover -- Pierre, with whom she is moving to London -- or staying in Paris -- threatens Andre with violence if he will not cooperate, and to top it off, strangers keep entering Andre’s flat, telling him that they are his friends and family, telling him that he doesn’t live in his flat anymore. However aged he may be, Andre knows that he is a powerful man, a man of authority, and he will find some way to assert it. After all, he still has all his faculties…. Doesn’t he?

In a darkly humorous and deeply poignant translation by Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller’s The Father is a tragi-comic mystery, a sobering and realistic family story, and an unsentimental, emotionally intense look at the world through the eyes of a man experiencing dementia, a dramatic illustration of the physical losses which occur along with the mental ones. The play was considered as 'the most acclaimed new play of the last decade' and won the Moliere Award for Best Play in 2014. The play has subsequently been made into a film starring Anthony Hopkins.

The Bench Production

The Father

This play will be staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.

Cast

Andre David Penrose
Anne Bernadette Lomas
Woman Robin Hall
Pierre Vincent Adams
Man James Bogumska-Higgins
Laura Kerrie Thirlwell

Crew

Director Roger Niven
Producer David Penrose
Stage Manager Laura Sheppard
Assistant Stage Manager Erin Offord
Lighting Design Roger Niven
Sound Design Jacquie Penrose
Lighting Operation Sally Hartley
Sound Operation Janice Halsey
Set Design ...
Flyer Design Dan Finch
Programme Editor Derek Callam
Photography ...

Director's Notes

'The Father' is one of the most powerful and accomplished scripts I have ever read. After the first reading, I knew I wanted to direct this play. I haven’t seen the film and will do so only after the production. The point of the play is to show someone’s lived experience of this terrible and feared disease. The play does so with compassion and humanity. It is not without humour, but the terror of being ‘lost’ within one’s own world, within one’s own mind, is real and visceral. The cast and crew are excellent and have worked hard to bring to life this extraordinary play. I am profoundly grateful to them for all their efforts.

In 2022, one in ten people died of dementia. Until we learn how to live with dementia, it will remain a source of fear. Zeller’s play, translated by stalwart Christopher Hampton, exposes the human cost, not just to ANDRE but his family. It has been a pleasure to direct and I hope the audiences will leave with a better understanding of this medical and social blight.

Reviews

Production Photographs