Review: Father – Sarah MacDonald

Show: Father
Venue: Greenside @ the Infirmary
Stars: **
Reviewer: Sarah MacDonald

“Father” written and performed by Francesca Bartellini is an overlapping account of a child’s abuse at the hands of the father of the child. This is recounted through the mother, and at other points through Bartelinni also portraying the child and the father. Tied into this is the topical subject of climate change and reference is made to both the bible and mythology.

There is mixed success in conveying these different characters. Each is played with passion and the characters’ arks make sense in terms of the narrative, however, as they are jammed together and played by a single actress, there is a blurring of which character is which. Perhaps this is fitting given the inner turmoil that would have arise within a family in such a scenario. The rape of the child is cast alongside the plundering of the planet through climate change and biblical repertoire is called upon to acknowledge that the role of care taker of the planet that is meant to be on the shoulder of Man has been shirked. Much like the care of the child when she faces the abuse is shirked by both parents until the mother is confronted by her daughter. The element of water is used to symbolise womanhood, and the image is drawn upon repeatedly throughout the narrative, as something soothing, something encapsulating, but equally water in the sea or in the sky, which is also referenced has destructive potential.

The tragedy of the narrative should be effective and the acting is certainly ardent. The source material creates an emotional response from the audience. The clarity between which character is being portrayed could have been more accessibly signified with a consistent lighting change, or a change in physicality that was kept to a particular area of the stage, the use of sound was used at points and if this had been more consistent, perhaps this too could have been useful. The motivation for presenting the characters in this nature was not clear throughout the performance. The performance was an avant-garde attempt to explore a painful story. However, the presentation does not allow the poetically-thick prose its best means of being understood.

Father: tickets available here
Greenside @ the Infirmary
6 – 24 August (not 11, 18)
8:50pm (55 minutes)

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