The Father doesn't win over all the critics
The West End transfer opened at Wyndham's Theatre last night
Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage
"James Macdonald's production, impeccably designed by Miriam Buether (set), Guy Hoare (lighting) and Christopher Shutt (sound), has moved stealthily from the Theatre Royal, Bath, via the Tricycle, Kilburn, into the West End, with no loss of snap, crackle and old pop in his pyjamas."
"[Kenneth Cranham] plays a blinder as this suburban Lear ...[he] doesn't "act" old or doddery – he's a fairly robust 70 year-old in a trim white beard – and gives a remarkable, unaffected display of utter stillness, gravity and simmering rage and frustration."
"For in its study of André's condition... Zeller, Hampton and Cranham have achieved in just eighty-five minutes of playing time something to rival and supplement the great work of Peter Brook and Pinter with the late explanatory neurologist Oliver Sacks. The Father's a play you have to see to know yourself, and those you love, better."
Michael Billington, The Guardian
"Although it has been a touch over-praised, it is a highly accomplished piece of writing that, in the course of 90 minutes, gives great insight into what it is like to lose one's mind to Alzheimer's."
"Once or twice the play, with its rapid succession of short, swift scenes, feels as if it is demonstrating its points. There is also, in the calculated unreliability of the action, a rather too conscious homage to Pinter."
"But the play eventually goes from the intellectually teasing to the emotionally moving in its reminder of the cyclical nature of human existence: that we often end up, as we began, pining for our mother and being taken for walks.
"Kenneth Cranham is superb as Andre. By never asking for our sympathy he naturally receives it. He is unafraid to show us that Andre is awkward, difficult, demanding and used to exercising control."
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
"The Father... will speak to anyone who has watched a relative disappear off into clouds of unknowingness, and to anyone who dreads the terrifying loss of identity caused by cruel diseases such as Alzheimer's."
"The 70-year-old actor – in one of the performances of his career – brilliantly expresses the contortions of a man trying to keep rising panic at bay, even turning the tables and accusing those around him of losing their marbles."
"Punctuated by frantic, increasingly fractured samples of Bach partitas, this 90-minute marvel wings us with a nightmarish logic from an atmosphere of Kafkaesque comedy with a dash of Pinteresque menace to a place of singular horror."
Natasha Tripney, The Stage
"James Macdonald's production is one of French polish and balletic measure. It should be a hard watch and often this is so, but at times it is rather too cool and clinical, something not helped by the fact that it feels somewhat overwhelmed by its new surroundings."
"Cranham's performance, however, is very well judged, with just enough dance in it to stop the whole experience from feeling relentlessly bleak, and the last few minutes, when Andre is stripped of his last defences, of his dignity, are genuinely upsetting."
Fiona Mountford, The Evening Standard
"The Father, a 90-minute examination of an elderly man's disintegration into Alzheimer's by French literary hotshot Florian Zeller, arrives from the Tricycle in Kilburn trailing five-star reviews, but the awkward truth is that I found it all far more frustrating than affecting."
"...we remain less involved than a drama with this emotive subject matter surely merits."
"It's a strong lead turn from Cranham, who captures particularly well the casual cruelty to which this perfidious disease can give rise."