I’ve heard a few people say the first thing they did after watching Fatherland was ring their dad, and I must admit I’ll be chatting to mine later.
Fatherland is a fantastic production brought to the Royal Exchange by 3 guys reluctant to discuss their own fathers but, I mean why would they, that would be self indulgent right? But everybody else’s well that’s a different story, many in fact. The piece focuses around the process and production itself, interviewing for research, discussing how it will work, meeting these fathers and sons to gain insight into their lives, all but one – an antagonist who refuses to conform to the list of questions put before him and throws the process back in on itself.
Verbatim productions are seen by many as the stomping ground of community theatre and with the cast of Fatherland seemingly walking off the street and through the stage whilst sharing their innermost memories you are indeed grounded, these are people, these are the community for this piece and we are certainly not on the “big stage.” But make no mistake, this is a seriously well considered and constructed dialogue where timing is to military precision and the cast work together one after the other to keep this constant chain of thought ducking and diving with laughter in unexpected places and moments of contemplation as a man is held a top a ladder in the centre of the room.
Theatre in the round for me presents the opportunity for some seriously innovative set design, Fatherland embraced this to my delight with simplicity and purpose – all I kept thinking was, it kinda looks like how my dad would go about making it if presented with the design.
The interspersing, overlapping, contrasting points and shared similarities in tone and delivery bounce off one another like a perfectly scripted night in the pub. This group of men of varied ages, backgrounds and walks of life across 3 towns have memories that evoke moments of elation and then turn on the verge of tears, they sing and they stutter as they recall their fathers actions and role in their lives.
MIF is again throwing some fantastic pieces our way and Fatherland is truly one not to be missed.