*This is a review post. I was kindly invited to watch Father’s Son in exchange for a review*.
I love the theatre, and being exposed to new works, and pieces that are topical, controversial and that don’t always fit the nice narrative we look for in life. Whilst I enjoy the classics we all know and love, I also enjoy watching new and relevant work that makes us think and challenge us. Father’s Son fits into this category.
Father’s Son written by James Morton is an hour long and in three parts, that flow into each other. The stage and setting are simple and two actors play out the roles through three generations and time. It’s very basic and raw, but it worked. The length is perfect because it is very intense, a bit dark and rough, but enough to give you the story of a family as they navigate or fail to navigate life and the issues they face. The Vault was the perfect venue, for this piece. The play starts in 1974 and finishes “today” or within what I know as it as 2018.
1974. A shattering and inconvenient truth.
2001. An act of extraordinary violence.
2018. The severing of family ties.
This restless, tender and deeply personal new play wrestles with the trauma inherited from father to son with sharp focus on how this shapes who we are. Spanning three generations, Father’s Son examines how the unresolved trauma, toxic behaviours and poor mental health ripple through a working class family in Stoke.
Each section dips into the issues a family is facing, and how they handle them. It’s frustrating to watch in a way because you want to step onto the stage and help, and try and work away to see them navigate things in a better way, but you know that the whole point of the story is how toxic behaviours and poor mental health can damage more than one generation and how if we fail to learn and do better we end up with more damage. There are phrases used in each section that are repeated that link you to each story. The actors stay the same and the set doesn’t change and it’s very basic but you are focusing on the story and the sadness that you can see developing. You watch as a father and his son and grandson deal with the wave of damage done because of life and the issues they face.
Kenny Fullwood and Mark Newsome work for the characters. It is a little hard at first to work around that they don’t age as the play progresses through time but you focus on the story and the emotion rather than fine detail.
I felt incredibly sad at the end because I know that this play is based on real-life and you can feel the desperation of the story and what could have been and what hasn’t been. There is a lot that is unspoken, that you work out or that becomes more obvious. There is part of me that would have liked a fourth part showing happy ever after, but we know that that isn’t how life always works and reality, as painful as it is, needs to be shared and faced.
I thoroughly enjoyed the piece and would recommend it as a thought-provoking real-life work that can and should make us talk more about intergenerational abuse, neglect, and poor parenting.