Kenneth Cranham gives an acting masterclass in this intensely moving study of Alzheimer’s disease as it returns to the West End before playing Richmond and Brighton.
It’s a timely return for Florian Zeller’s play (translated from the original French by Christopher Hampton), opening the day after it received three Olivier nominations, including Best Play and Best Actor for Cranham.
He stars as Andre, a fiercely independent and still eloquent widower, who is beginning to show signs of diminishing memory – much to the concern of his daughter Anne (Amanda Drew), who wants to move from Paris to London to be with her lover and is desperate to install a carer for her father before she leaves.
This play works so brilliantly because it turns the tables. Instead of being mere observers of Andre’s plight, Zeller immerses us fully in his world through clever plot construction (we won’t spoil it for you).
It uses different actors to play the same parts and subtly shifts scenery around so the audience is unsure whether there used to be a table in a particular place, what a certain person looked like, or what someone said. Like Andre, we are left bewildered and frustrated as we try to unravel the puzzle.
It only runs to 90 minutes, and there’s no flab as Zeller uses every second to paint a deeply affecting portrait of a man lost in his own world.