Tag Archives: Lee Curran

The Son

The Son


Duke of Work’s Theatre

The Son

The Son

Duke of York’s Theatre

Reviewed – 3rd September 2019



“an ordinary play in so many ways, and yet it is simultaneously extraordinary”


Everything about The Son is arresting. It is difficult to watch and even harder not to.

This is the final play in Florian Zeller’s loosely connected familial trilogy, which began with 2012’s The Father. Here we join Anne (Amanda Abbington) and Pierre (John Light), a divorced couple who must reconnect for the sake of their only son. Nicolas (Laurie Kynaston) has been a completely different person since the divorce, and now Anne can no longer cope with his self-isolation, anger, or (as of late) truancy. Moving in with Pierre and his new girlfriend Sofia (Amaka Okafor) seems like the solution – but what was the problem to begin with? As Nicolas’ thoughts begin to unravel, so does his family’s belief in the son they thought they knew.

The Son is an ordinary play in so many ways, and yet it is simultaneously extraordinary. This is apparent even before the play begins. The sight of Lizzie Clachan’s set – a chic suburban living room flooded with symbolic pieces of debris – is enough to indicate the carefully constructed tumult that is to follow.

It is only afterwards that these objects (children’s toys, a mounted deer head) really strike the observer as important. This is because, for all the busyness on stage, it is the actors that draw all the focus. Laurie Kynaston is utterly believable as Nicolas. He stays clear of melodramatic clichés and instead pools the depths of Zeller’s writing to draw out an emotionally authentic character. John Light is fascinating to watch as Pierre, a flawed yet deeply caring father whose frustration manifests itself in uncomfortable ways. Despite the unsavoury aspects of his character, Light humanises Pierre, making his position understandable if not agreeable. Amaka Okafor transforms Sofia into a complex character, a woman who is both loving and resentful of her volatile stepson. Okafor surprises in every scene, and is able to navigate the twists and turns of her character with flair. There is strong support from Amanda Abbington, who is sadly not present enough throughout the story. When she is present, however, she radiates love and warmth, an ideal balance to Light’s ferocity.

Whilst Zeller is evasive about the details of Nicolas’ illness, he pulls no punches with how it is presented. He wrings every last drop of emotion from the scenarios he presents, investing every one with a subtly disarming twist. Zeller’s approach – to turn his characters inside out and hold them up for all to see – makes The Son all the more difficult to watch. There is a universal sense of pain here: this family is not particularly special, not marked by excessive trauma, but in many ways just ordinary, in a way that makes its dissolution even crueller. It is clear that Nicolas is surrounded by love, just not the right kind. And we as an audience know that it will never be the right kind – but we still fall in love with those moments of laughter and lightness that suggest it might be so. The vague accumulation of dread sits uneasily within these moments of joy in what is a true emotional test for even most disconnected audience member.

Beautifully and assuredly executed, The Son may mark a completion of a trilogy, but is surely the sign of many more great works to come.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography by Marc Brenner


ATG Tickets

The Son

Duke of York’s Theatre until 2nd November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Rosmersholm | ★★★★ | May 2019


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The Wider Earth – 3.5 Stars


The Wider Earth

Jerwood Gallery, Natural History Museum

Reviewed – 12th October 2018


“Visually, the production is stunning from the moment you enter the space”


The Wider Earth is a new play by David Morton being performed in the Jerwood Gallery of the Natural History Museum, after a sell out run at the Sydney Opera House. It explores Darwin’s maiden journey on the HMS Beagle, where he began to form his theory of evolution. It follows him and the members of the crew on their journey across the world, Christian missionaries and scientists side by side.

Visually, the production is stunning from the moment you enter the space, it’s a shame it doesn’t keep to the same standard throughout the whole performance, the issue lying mainly in the fact that it merges different artistic styles, creating an almost amateur effect within the projections. Moments within the play, combined with the mismatched style of the projections, made me feel like I was in an exhibition at a museum, whether or not that was the desired effect, I have no idea. However it left me feeling displaced.

Occasionally the story becomes stilted, especially as the writer struggles to fit in the scientific explanation accurately into the story. It briefly touches on the more ‘unsavoury’ aspects of Darwin’s generation, although it needs to explore them deeper, rather than sugar coating slavery, even if the desired audience is for families and children. Morton, however, does a brilliant job of realising his play on the stage, naturally fitting comfortably in the role of director.

There were moments that were absolutely gorgeous, for example the supplies sequence which was beautifully timed and an absolute pleasure to watch. The puppets, created by Dead Puppet Society, were beautifully intricate, and brought each of the Beagle’s destinations to life. The whole cast worked fantastically as a team, all puppeteering several different animals, and providing each one with their own personality including a very personable iguana. Bradley Foster as Darwin was strong throughout and his interactions with puppets were utterly convincing.

Sound and lighting, were aspects of the production that at times seemed to overpower the very versatile and deceptively simple set. The music, by Lior and Tony Buchan, was beautiful, but excessive sometimes. The production, often, fell into the ‘too much’ category and could have been a lot more effective, by taking away a lot of the glitz and glamour.

Overall a beautifully directed play, about an important era in history. With its glorious cinematic score, and some stunning visuals, it brings to life a story that previously only existed in books and specimens.


Reviewed by Charlotte Hurford

Photography by Mark Douet


The Wider Earth

The Wider Earth

Jerwood Gallery, Natural History Museum until 30th December



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