THEATRE / Daddy's gone a' hunting: JEFFREY WAINWRIGHT on Father's Day
George's status as a human being - even Connie slips into 'was' instead of 'is' - is the first great problem Maureen Lawrence poses for us. But besides that is the equally demanding matter of how he lives on in those around him: Connie, and their daughter Barbara, an unmarried schoolteacher who complains that she is herself 'on the brink of being old'.
Every day has been Father's Day for George. The notion that 'I'm the boss' still fires in his brain, and the flashbacks show him as a tyrannical husband and father who pursued his own meticulous systems of standards and pride as obsessively as his own pleasure at the dog-track. The sheer physical vehemence of the man is intimidatinqly conveyed by Richard Mayes. Only towards the end of the play, when we see him weep for his redundancy and the collapse of the firm he worked for, is his sense of self-worth cracked. He was forced to live 'so cramped', says Connie, and though she is his main victim, she has an intuitive understanding of how the exercise of domestic power provides his self-respect. This power, she says, is what he construes as love.
Connie is wiser than her educated and articulate daughter, though Barbara's fury at her mother's oppression is evidently justified. She too is victim and beneficiary of the power George thinks of as love. She owes her education and social betterment to his pride and it is him she most resembles: no one was 'fuller of himself', says Connie, except Barbara.
Transfixing as the play is it does lack narrative, and therefore some dramatic drive. It shows a portrait rather than a process, and becomes, especially in the long first half, repetitious. Still, Penny Ciniewicz's fine production features not only strong and brave acting but some excellent design. Greg Turbyne's lighting combines pools of shadow with some unflinching white harshness, and Paul Andrews' evocation of Leeds terraces as dolls' houses, over which Mayes towers like a colossus, has a magical Chagall-like quality.
There are no answers provided to the agonising problems forced before us by this play, nor is there a single frame of understanding of its situations which will entirely fit. But it is an experience which, demanding as it is, should not be missed.
Until 21 August at West Yorkshire Playhouse (0532-442111).
Arts & Ents blogs
There is a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refle...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
Daft Punk's Random Access Memories set to be fastest-selling album of 2013
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
Man Of Tai Chi: Keanu Reeves' directorial debut 'a contemporary Kung Fu film' snapped up at Cannes
The Freemasons' Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open
Cannes Film Festival: And why exactly are vous here?
- 1 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Bloody attack brings terror to capital’s streets
- 2 Mothers' diets may harm IQs in two-thirds of babies
- 3 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 4 Eyewitness gives extraordinary account of her confrontation with Woolwich attackers
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL might have a sinister plan as a soldier is murdered in suspected Islamic terrorist attack
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.