Dir. Nicholas Bone and Ian Cameron, Tron Theatre, 1-4 November
The writers and performers Drummond and Bone, inspired by Edward Gosse’s memoire about his fallout with his religious father, discuss whether they should have told their dads they did not believe in God. Although at moments unsatisfying as a theatre performance, the importance of the questions raised makes Our Fathers highly recommendable.
Our Fathers can be divided into two narrative levels: scenes from the memoire Father and Son, and the discussion between the two performers about their own clergymen fathers. The scenes taken out from the memoire are well acted by both performers. Moreover, a simple but atmospheric set by Karen Tennent stand out. A wooden table and a couple of wooden chairs, together with three open cabinets containing different scientific and religious artefacts, successfully transport the audience to the room of Gosse’s father, a deeply religious naturalist. However, a problem arises between these scenes, when we leave Gosse’s world and return to Drummond and Bone playing themselves; the interaction between the two, which is supposed to look like improvisation, at times feels forced. It is largely due to Drummond overplaying the loud and casual self, which loses authenticity after a while, and in turn hurts the sincerity of their relationship.
Yet the play engages the audience exceptionally well. Drummond addresses the auditorium often, explaining the dilemmas he is facing, such as whether to admit to his father that he is an atheist and that he does not want to baptise his child, or to go on with the christening and ensure their relationship remains unshaken. This question, contrasted with the ambiguity of Bone’s regret over never having told his now-deceased father of his lack of faith, gives a lot to think about. Audience participation culminates with the request to close our eyes and reflect on things we have hidden from our fathers and why, as well as to answer whether we would go along with baptism just to keep our fathers happy. Personally, I gave answers I never thought I would.
Good theatre is not always about impeccable acting. A production inspiring reflection can be just as valuable, if not more.
[Zad P. Novak]