Friday, March 02, 2012

'Our Father' by Charlotte Keatley

2 March 2012

Anton Chekhov said that if a gun appears in a story it has to be fired: that’s the point of a story. So when the curtain opened on Charlotte Keatley’s new play ‘Our Father’ at the Palace Theatre in Watford last Saturday, to reveal a dam, high on a hill in the Peak District, there was an ever-present inevitability that this dam would burst. Adam Wiltshire’s amazing set was the star of the show and the flood was a real coup de théâtre. Charlotte Keatley is best known for her 1987 play ‘My Mother Said I Never Should’ – a clever and moving tale of four generations of women that fast became a modern classic. She is clearly an accomplished writer and ‘Our Father’, directed by Brigid Larmour who directed the original Contact Theatre production of ‘My Mother Said I Never Should’, was a well-acted, polished piece, but somehow it seemed to amount to slightly less than the sum of its parts. The device of a young woman in the present day hearing the voice of a young woman talking to her from centuries earlier in the same location reminded me of Tom Stoppard’s ‘Arcadia’. But, for me, the play failed to really come to life: there seemed to be a strong story bursting to get out but the narrative dam was possibly too securely built to allow it to flow.

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