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The Cultch Theatre, Vancouver

Florian Zeller’s award-winning play, The Father, has garnered critical acclaim across the globe in recent years. Debuting in Vancouver at the historic and intimate Cultch Theatre, The Search Party’s production of this tragi-comedy is poignant and deeply compelling. Kevin McNulty gives a nuanced, gripping and world-class performance as Andre, an elderly man navigating the cruel throes of dementia. While the granular details of his diagnosis and illness are not disclosed, The Father shines a human light on the reality of living with memory loss, when reality is in itself unreliable. Zeller powerfully implicates the audience in Andre’s perception of truth and takes us on an unsettling and at times disturbing journey, while simultaneously relieving us with intelligent humor and tender interactions.

The wider cast also play a key role in conveying dementia’s ripple effect of devastation. Jillian Fargey in particular does a wonderful job as Andre’s daughter and carer Anne, offering a fragile poise that is both unsettlingly relatable and heart wrenching to observe. Amir Ofek’s set design is effective in its graceful cleanliness, juxtaposing dramatically with the disorientating and muddled events that unfold on stage. The cast of six move fluidly around the set throughout 90 minutes of action, and it is Mindy Parfitt’s seamless direction that violently pulls the viewer along on one man’s futile yet urgent fight to retain his autonomy.

The Father is both brutally honest and intriguingly cryptic, and Zeller’s portrayal of dementia is thoughtful and challenging. The universal plight of ageing is a subject frequently engaged with in art and theatre, but the weight of The Father lies in its unique format and facilitation of empathy. With a first production as wonderful as this, The Search Party are most certainly one to watch going forwards.

  • Tragic Comedy
  • By Florian Zeller
  • Directed by Mindy Parfitt
  • Produced by The Search Party
  • Cast includes: Kevin McNulty, Jillian Fargey, Steven Lobo, Agnes Tong, Emma Slipp, Kayvon Khoshkam
  • The Cultch Theatre, Vancouver
  • Until 30 November 2019

About The Author

Reviewer (Vancouver, Canada)

After seven years of London life, Abigail has swapped Big Ben for big mountains in Canada. Alongside working as a cultural insight researcher, she studied Arts and Humanities at Birkbeck University. This is where she discovered a passion for theatre, and a realisation of how socially and culturally important story-telling on the stage is, as well as how exciting, provocative and inspiring it can be! Since then she has fallen in love with a breadth of genres and writing styles, and is especially excited about anything that questions what it means to be human in the contemporary world. She’s really looking forward to exploring Vancouver’s fringe scene, checking out new productions and engaging in conversations about them.

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