Our Father at Watford Palace Theatre*

First published in What's On

Charlotte Keatley was commissioned by The Palace Theatre to write Our Father and although her creation reveals a great deal of understanding and produced some really cogent dramatic moments, as a whole piece of theatre it struggled to be heard.

The actors seemed to work well together but they appeared to wrestle from time to time with the erratic, dramatic tone of the play and while I recognised all the examples of conflict and abuse, they didn’t represent ‘normal society’ and as such were difficult to identify with. The situations and scenarios were also very unpredictable and simply didn’t stand up as a realistic sequence of events.

The themes were clearly presented and acted but the transformation and development of the characters was frequently too extreme to be believed and at times I felt some of the action bordered on the burlesque.

Technically the production worked. The set was suitably imposing and really made you feel very damp indeed.

The actors did a sterling job navigating their way from scene to scene but I actually felt uncomfortable from time to time, watching them tackle such inconsistent material.

One assumes the artistic director, Brigid Larmour, saw drafts of this piece as it developed and I’m frankly surprised the play made it through to production in its present state. Those of the audience who disappeared during the interval no doubt felt the same.

I’m afraid I have to agree with the man sitting on my right, who said to his partner, ‘I don’t think this play really works.’

Paul Henley Washford

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