Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Father

Currently, August Strindberg's play The Father is running in rep with Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House at Theatre for a New Audience. This is an excellent opportunity to see two companion plays (both directed by Arin Arbus) back to back with an amazing cast.

Strindberg wrote The Father in 1887, eight years after A Doll's House (or A Doll House if you prefer that translation of the title). In part, it was a reaction to a number of Ibsen's plays, including Rosmersholm, which had come out the previous year. Being that the play concerns marriage, though, parallels with A Doll's House are most apparent.

TFANA's productions play up those parallels. John Douglas Thompson, who plays Thorwald in A Doll's House, is the title character in The Father, and Maggie Lacey, a superb Nora in Ibsen's drama, plays his wife Laura in The Father. Both plays feature physicians, and Nigel Gore admirably portrays both doctors. Similarly, Laurie Kennedy appears as a nanny in the two plays.

At one point, Strindberg's father asks, "Do you know Ibsen's Ghosts?" The audience, predictably, roars with laughter. I found myself ghosting that play while watching The Father. Strindberg's pastor (played by Jesse J. Perez) reminded me of Pastor Manders in Ghosts, and the title character's hovering between life and death at the end of the play is eerily similar to Oswald at the end of Ghosts.

While A Doll's House is performed with an intermission, TFANA is presenting all three acts of The Father straight through, with only a short pause as the stage is reset between acts. Also, this adaptation by David Greig takes some liberties, including making the final moment between Laura and her daughter more ambiguous than it is in the original text.

Though I preferred A Doll's House (which, honestly, is just a better play), both pieces are worth seeing, and they benefit from viewing them back to back. If you're interested in tickets, go to:

Theatre for a New Audience