The Father

Father by A. Strindberg @ The Lion and Unicorn Theatre

The final performance of Shohidor Rahman's sensitive adaptation of Strindberg's classic tale of an army captain driven insane by his wife's machinations ended with rapturous applause. And thoroughly deserved it was too.

Adolf ( played by Llewellyn St.David) is an old army captain who becomes locked in an ultimately mortal battle with his own wife Laura (Clara Anderson) over the upbringing of their daughter (Michelle Miller). Laura, in an ingenious yet unspeakably cruel move, manages to plant a seed of doubt in Adolf's head over the true identity of their daughter's paternity that will
in the end blossom into an insanity born of uncertainty.

The play is a damning critique of the institution of marriage, the institution of the church and of the institution of medicine. And, of course, of the duplicity of Woman. Towards the end of his torment, Adolf muses "To eat, or to be eaten. That is the question". Unfortunately, his realisation of the cruel nature of life comes too late to win back either
the heart of his daughter or his sanity.

Clara Anderson, is stunning in her role as Laura, the devilish matriarch who will stop at nothing in her quest to gain control of her house and her daughter. She exudes a chilling mixture of feigned innocence and impossible cruelty. Linda Large, who plays the nervous and guilt-ridden maid, also deserves a mention for her convincing performance. As the only one who the
now-insane Adolf trusts, it falls to her to complete the ultimate act of treachery, which is to deceive him into putting on a straight jacket.

  The show, however, is stolen by the protagonist Llewellyn St.David. The lack of any real distinction between stage and audience makes his unnervingly realistic journey into the depths of insanity as disconcerting for the members of the audience as it is for those of his family, and the line between the two seems to disappear into thin air. The mix of fear and
compassion he induces in the audience makes Strindberg's point all the more pertinent: that this is a collective crime for which we are all guilty.
-Jasper Wenban-Smith