Lyric Hammersmith (venue)
04 June 2018 (released)
06 June 2018
Fatherland which is co-authored by Scott Graham, Karl Hyde and Simon Stephens is a musical experience rather than a straight play which examines ‘contemporary fatherhood in all its complexities and contradictions'.
The script is based on verbatim answers to questions posed to men in Corby, Stockport and Kidderminster (the home towns of the authors) about their experiences of being fathered and of being fathers. It is the manner of the responses, brilliantly translated into songs and chants and skillfully choreographed into dance and movement that really resonates rather than the very varied but predictable answers themselves.
By definition the cast is all male but many aspects of masculinity are represented - from the ultra testosterone charged to the artistic and vulnerable. The process of creating a script by asking the same quite mundane questions - What did your father look like? What’s the earliest memory of your dad? Did he ever talk about love to you? - is challenged by one of the interviewees, Luke. He points out that by the process of selection and editing - the omissions and the emphasis will change the truth as originally told. He also asks about the authors motives and ultimately he declines to take part in the project. This dramatic device serves to enable the authors to admit to this inevitable manipulation of the raw material and also to make the audience question the validity of the outcome.
What does have enormous impact however is the convincing acting, the imaginative staging and the repetitious drone like singing somewhere between a football chant and a Welsh male voice choir. Although sometimes the medium is more thought provoking than the message - how poorly men communicate emotions to one another - Fatherland is an exciting and entertaining event which I am glad to have seen.
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