Tag Archives: Bob Crowley

A Voyage Around my Father

A Voyage Around my Father


Cambridge Arts Theatre

A VOYAGE AROUND MY FATHER at the Cambridge Arts Theatre


A Voyage Around My Father

“This production is as cosy as a Sunday afternoon TV period drama”

It is over fifty years since this play was first performed and the celebrity status of its author, John Mortimer, has surely waned. The size of this first night audience, however, suggests that he is still fondly remembered by many.

In a role played in the past by Olivier and Guinness, Rupert Everett triumphantly takes on the role of Father. The blindness, of which he will never speak, comes upon him with a blinding flash and a percussive explosion. From then on, Everett shows brilliantly his lack of sight by fumbling for a teacup, tapping his stick to find his chair, and displaying a disturbing blank stare into nothingness.

Ever by his side is his devoted wife (Eleanor David) whilst the Son – or Boy as his parents call him – is kept mostly at a distance. The primary story is that of the Son, confidently portrayed by Jack Bardoe. Narrated by him, linking scenes that take us through his school years – dressing down into short trousers, blazer and cap – following his father into a career in law and taking his first steps into married life. Of the Father, we see him promenading his garden, inspecting the flowers via a spoken description from whomever is nearest. There is a hit-and-miss running gag about counting earwigs. The Father’s blindness keeps him distant and aloof. He is irascible, prone to outbursts and provocative to those closest to him.

An excellent supporting cast is confidently moved around the stage by director Richard Eyre but the short scenes rarely involve more than a handful of characters at one time. Julian Wadham’s declamatory school Headmaster and Calum Finlay’s school pupil Reigate are cameo performances worthy of mention. Two scenes – both with echoes of wartime – fall somewhat flat. Perhaps the poignancy of one and the humour of the second have been lost to time. Everything lifts again with the arrival of the sparky Elizabeth (Allegra Marland), soon to be married to the Son despite the misgivings of the son’s Father.

The predominantly bare set (designer Bob Crowley) is a beauty. Images of thick green foliage, the sun hazily glinting through the leaves, evokes the halcyon days of summers gone by. This production is as cosy as a Sunday afternoon TV period drama. There is much to be enjoyed, particularly in the performances of Everett and Bardoe, but little of any relevance.

A VOYAGE AROUND MY FATHER at the Cambridge Arts Theatre

Reviewed on 17th October 2023

by Phillip Money

Photography by Manuel Harlan





Previously reviewed at this venue:

Frankenstein | ★★★★ | October 2023
The Shawshank Redemption | ★★★ | March 2023
The Homecoming | ★★★★★ | April 2022
Animal Farm | ★★★★ | February 2022
Aladdin | ★★★★ | December 2021
The Good Life | ★★ | November 2021
Dial M For Murder | ★★★ | October 2021
Absurd Person Singular | ★★★ | September 2021

A Voyage Around my Father

A Voyage Around my Father

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The Inheritance – 4 Stars


The Inheritance

 Noël Coward Theatre

Reviewed – 13th October 2018


“Seeing a play on the West End that so unashamedly and honestly tackles gay male relationships (sexual and otherwise) feels in itself a remarkable achievement”


Epic in almost every sense of the word, ‘The Inheritance’, now enjoying a West End transfer after a sell-out run at the Young Vic, demands seven inspiring, moving, riveting hours to tell a story about how stories are shaped, and how they in turn shape those who listen to them.

A group of men are trying to tell their life stories but need help. Enter E. M. Forster, whose ‘Howards End’ forms the basis of Matthew Lopez’s ‘The Inheritance’, to help the boys along. Expertly played by Paul Hilton, ‘Morgan’ – with the help of the cast – becomes our narrator, introducing us to Toby Darling (Andrew Burnap) and Eric Glass (Kyle Soller), whose rocky relationship the play centres around. Taking place almost entirely in Manhattan, New York, the couple face eviction, jealousies, successes and failures, all the while embracing and reflecting upon the lives of gay men over the last hundred years with each other and the group of friends that surrounds them.

At its core, Lopez has woven an intoxicating tapestry of a show that demonstrates the problematic importance of legacy and community, especially for gay men today. We hear lots of stories. How these stories come together is the nature of ‘inheritance’. How do we learn how to be gay men? From each other? And what happens when that community of exchange breaks down? Drawing on the emotional devastation of the late-eighties/early-nineties AIDS crisis, Lopez suggests the trauma of one generation should be the next one’s inspiration.

Bob Crowley’s sparse design is gorgeously simple, and along with Stephen Daldry’s astute direction, exposes the theatricality of the endeavour, whilst giving the cast plenty of space to play. The often cumbersome narrative elements to the play are expertly handled by the cast and director, who places his actors almost constantly on stage, listening, commenting and waiting for their turn. The need to flip on a dime from exposition to ‘scene’ is wittily and effectively handled by the cast at large. Burnap is mesmerising in his performance as Toby Darling, larger than life, hilarious, yet always hinting at a dark past, the reveal of which the audience really has a long wait for. Kyle Soller is equally courageous in his performance, able to be sentimental without parody and believably naïve all the way through to the end. Andrew Burnap and Syrus Lowe stand out in a tight, generous and incredible ensemble.

‘The Inheritance’ is essential viewing for everyone. Seeing a play on the West End that so unashamedly and honestly tackles gay male relationships (sexual and otherwise) feels in itself a remarkable achievement. I would argue Lopez could have trimmed down this story by a few hours and we wouldn’t have minded, but this emotionally stirring and inspirational production is well worth getting cramp for.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Production photography by Marc Brenner

Cast image below by Johan Persson

The Inheritance

 Noël Coward Theatre until 19th January


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Quiz | ★★★★ | April 2018
The Lieutenant of Inishmore | ★★★★ | July 2018


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