THE FATHER starring Frank Langella is a sad play. It is a sad play like I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER is a sad play, like DEATH OF A SALESMAN or ‘NIGHT MOTHER; really really sad.
Frank Langella gives a wonderfully nuanced and theatrical performance as a man who is losing his battle with dementia. The play, by Florian Zeller with Christopher Hampton‘s translation from French, toys with the audience by having different actors play the same character, putting scenes out-of-order and with magically disappearing scenery. (They even list an “illusion consultant” in the program.) It’s so disorienting that the audience gets a taste of what it must be like to have Alzheimer’s disease.
Langella’s André does not slip away into that good night. He fights it all the way with humor, charm, bullying, tap dancing, anger, and intellect, but it is a losing battle. We know it, André knows it and that is why this play is so very sad. FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON sad.