Theatre luminary John Bell AO will be joined by acclaimed actors Marco Chiappi (His Girl Friday), Glenn Hazeldine (Away), Anita Hegh (Cloud Nine), Natasha Herbert (Neighbourhood Watch) and Faustina ‘Fuzzy’ Agolley, who makes her mainstage debut, when Florian Zeller’s The Father opens on Wednesday 8 November at Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio.
Directed by Damien Ryan, this Melbourne Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company co-production is a powerful and poignant mystery that transports audiences into the puzzling labyrinth of an old man’s once familiar world.
John Bell said, ‘I must admit when I started reading the script I was baffled by it. Was it a weird kind of thriller or an exercise in absurdity? But once I understood the ingenious device by which the playwright allows us into the mind of André, I was blown away by it. It is by turn challenging, funny, poignant, surprising and full of tenderness.’
Damien Ryan said ‘The greatest plays tend to be about family, an area we are all experts in, particularly its dysfunction, and this play is a stunningly simple, funny and bitingly theatrical look at a family taking on a challenge that many in the audience will recognise as very close to their home. It is in fact, all of our destinies. We spend a lifetime collecting our identity and possessions around us – what do we do when our mind begins to divest itself of that identity, when everything we recognise turns strange? The Father reminds us of everything we care about.’
There’s definitely something fishy going on. You can’t fool André, and while he may be eighty years old and apt, on occasion, to forget things, they are only ever small things. Such as where he’s put his watch. It doesn’t explain why people are messing around with things in his flat, and why his daughter keeps contradicting herself. And it doesn’t explain why she allows strangers to come in and threaten him. No, something’s going on and he’ll get to the bottom of it.
Florian Zeller is fast becoming one of France’s most celebrated contemporary playwrights and has been described by The Guardian as the most exciting new theatre writer of our time. Amongst his collection of acclaimed plays, The Father and The Mother have both received Molière Awards and were adapted into English by Christopher Hampton. Prior to becoming a playwright, Florian had already made a name for himself as a novelist, publishing his first novel, Artificial Snow, when he was just twenty-two and receiving the distinguished Prix Interallié for The Fascination of Evil which tackles the relationship between the West and Islam.
Damien Ryan is Artistic Director of Sydney-based Sport for Jove Theatre and has worked extensively with Bell Shakespeare as an actor, director, teacher and writer for many years. Damien’s work has earned him multiple awards including Sydney Theatre Awards for Best Director and Best Production. For Bell Shakespeare his directing credits include Hamlet, Henry V, Henry 4 and Romeo And Juliet as well as shows for their Actors at Work program. His other theatre credits include directing Antigone, Away, Look Back in Anger,The Crucible, Cyrano de Bergerac, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, The Libertine, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Sport for Jove Theatre.
Translator Christopher Hampton is best known for his play based on the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses and subsequent film version Dangerous Liaisons, for which he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay; and his Oscar-nominated film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement . Over the course of his career, he has written and translated a number of plays, films and musicals.
Cast Faustina Agolley, John Bell, Marco Chiappi, Glenn Hazeldine, Anita Hegh, Natasha Herbert
Director Damien Ryan
Set & Costume Designer
Lighting Designer Rachel Burke
Composer & Sound Designer
‘André is one of Bell’s very best performances.’
The Sydney Morning Herald
‘Bell’s performance as André is indeed titanic.’
2 November – 16 December
Wednesday 8 November, 8pm
Arts Centre Melbourne,
03 8688 0800
1300 182 183
A co-production with Sydney Theatre Company by special arrangement with Theatre Royal Bath Productions