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The Father

Published March 18, 2015

What’s it all about?

August Strindberg’s play may have been written in the 1880s but Abbey Wright’s intense revival proves its many, many, many issues – seriously, the family at the centre of this play could shock even Jeremy Kyle – terrifyingly relevant.

Set in a house heavy with the weight of ghosts and resentment, this dysfunctional group are caught in a battle of wills in an attempt to determine the future of the beloved young Bertha. At the centre of this argument are the Captain and his wife Laura, trapped in a marriage ravaged with hatred and distrust. As the Captain’s delicate sanity begins to dissolve, Laura chips away at his every weakness, intent on destroying him.

Who’s in it?

Alex Ferns is a triumph, giving an emotionally raw, physically exhausting performance as the Captain. Tasked with playing a brutal, aggressive and unhinged character continually on the brink of exploding, he’s both compelling and unpredictable. As the equally unlikeable Laura – although this will no doubt be one of the many things up for debate in the bar after your trip – Emily Dobbs is quietly calculating and controlled, offering only the briefest flashes of fragility.

What should I look out for?

The line “Love between sexes is a war” spat at the audience with such bile it sums up every ounce of disgust at the centre of this destructive and malicious marriage.

In a nutshell?

Alex Ferns gives a bruising, tortured performance in Laurie Slade’s haunting reworking of a classic steeped in timeless debates.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@AnnieRoweCasts Watching Emily Dobbs & Alex Ferns slug it out in THE FATHER @TrafStudios: most intense, exciting experience I’ve had at the theatre for ages

Will I like it?

This isn’t for anyone looking for a night of light hearted feel good fun, but for a dose of thought provoking drama that will challenge, look no further. Women are yet to have the vote and men paternity leave in playwright Laurie Slade’s searing version of this dark drama, but its debate on parental and gender roles, science versus religion, still strike a chord.

The Father is playing until 11 April. You can book tickets through the Trafalgar Studio 2 website.

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