Rupert Everett stars in this classic at the Theatre Royal...
John Mortimer is most remembered as the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, still playing on television as we speak. He also wrote this autobiographical play, giving a fascinating insight into his early life and how it was shaped by his father. A father by all accounts eccentric, cantankerous, impossible but in his own way, an outstanding talent.
Who better than Rupert Everett to breathe life into this giant of a figure, something of a giant figure himself. A star of movies such as My Best Friends’s Wedding, Another Country, St Trinians, Shrek, not to mention The Next Best Thing, alongside Madonna.
Father, as he is called in the script, is a wily and outspoken divorce barrister. As well as being totally blind following a freak accident. Father and his family cope with this disaster by pretending it never happened. And so, life continues as we the audience watch the Son leave home for a crazy boarding school, and from there onto The War, a fledgling career split between the Bar and writing, marriage and parenthood.
But with such talented actors, nothing more is needed
But all the time Son is never far from Father’s long shadow. Conflict arises. Will it ever be reconciled?
And if that sounds like a drama, this is a play full of humour that had theatregoers chortling out loud. Rupert Everett is superb as Father, playing him with a kind of blind stare that was quite mesmerising. At times commanding, frail, annoying, adorable.
The play is held together by Son, narrating his own life from an idyllic childhood killing earwigs to working as a barrister, when he attempts but fails to imitate his father’s all-conquering courtroom banter. Son is played Jack Bardoe, who is fantastic in the role, visibly growing up before our eyes. His everyman appeal keeps the audience engaged.
This is a play written by a man about a man. And the part of mother, ably played by Eleanor David, only scrapes the surface of the sacrifices Mother made to become a lifelong carer. Thoughts for another play, perhaps?
The set is minimalist. A few props and a leafy backdrop. But with such talented actors, nothing more is needed. Nothing to distract from their consummate performances.
All in all, a resounding success and highly recommended.
A Voyage Round My Father plays at the Theatre Royal from Tuesday 14 November until Saturday 18 November 2023
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