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The Father (Coventry)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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It is thought that The Father is derived from August Strindberg's personal experiences during the disintegration of his first marriage, showcasing the gender issues relating to decisions about their child's future; something which still holds relevance in today's culture.

This Belgrade Theatre's production, directed by Joe Harmston, succeeds on so many levels. The new adaptation by Laurie Slade never loses the essence of Strindberg's work but is able to channel a new life into his writing, making it increasingly more accessible for a modern audience.

Simon Scullion's design in the Main House interwoven with Mike Robertson's lighting and Matthew Bugg's sound composition is incredibly striking. It is able to effectively reflect the breakdown of the family after the mother (played by the incredibly talented Katy Stephens) plants a seed of doubt in the father's mind regarding the paternity of their daughter, Bertha. Such a suspicion drives the father to insanity, resulting in a dramatic conclusion.

This production demonstrates a collaborative triumph from the cast and production team, but none more so than Joe Dixon who plays the Captain (or the title's namesake). The intensity throughout his performance and the light and shade he exhibits is a masterclass for budding actors. Running at an hour and three quarters straight through with no interval, it is a real rollercoaster of emotions for the audience member and one that should be experienced.

Jenny Antill



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