Tag Archives: Rob Pomfret

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 Gap – 4 Stars


The Gap

Bread & Roses Theatre

Reviewed – 9th October 2018


“far more poignant and interrogative than it gives itself credit for”


It isn’t uncommon for shows to oversell themselves – bellowing about their meaning, message, and how important their work is, while actually being somewhat hollow. Strangely, Harrie Dobby’s The Gap undersells itself; its marketing brands it as a comedy, and while it certainly delivers on laughs, it’s also far more poignant and interrogative than it gives itself credit for.

The play centres on Lisa and Dave, whose paths intersect as they are backpacking around the world; they fall in love with each other, as well as the lifestyle, and find their ambitions and dreams challenged as the obligations and commitments of normal life start taking over. Dobby’s script is brimming with snappy dialogue and a blitzing pace that still gives sufficient attention to character moments. The comedy gleams especially bright when poking fun at the situations the characters find themselves in instead of relying on gags, and the whole cast does a magnificent job of wringing the humour out of every moment.

This is in no doubt also thanks to the direction – also provided by Dobby – as well as the minimalistic design by Ellena Dobby that gives the cast the space to feel unencumbered. Small visual cues help to provide context to scenes though, such as a confederacy flag draped on a chair in a scene where Lisa introduces her mother to Dave. This scene in particular brings out the more serious side of the play; the titular gap covers a number of divides that are explored, be they social, cultural, generational, or aspirational. In doing this, it elevates the comedy by underpinning it with relevant and thoughtful themes, but The Gap also knows when to let the drama take centre-stage.

Rafiq Richard and Lydia Orange deliver stellar performances as Dave and Lisa, sporting excellent chemistry and a fiery rapport. The supporting cast are also superb, with Rob Pomfret especially bringing a blistering energy to his role as Sean, that kept the audience thoroughly mesmerised. It was a shame that the supporting characters only appeared in a scene or two each, existing only to serve Lisa and Dave’s story instead of carrying journeys of their own, and it would have allowed for greater comedic and thematic opportunity if these characters too had faced obstacles to overcome.

It was pleasantly surprising to see The Gap feel unrestrained by its genre and often dance between comedy and drama seamlessly. It delivers a story that will leave you pondering and beaming in equal measure, and possesses an engaging, intellectual charm that it deserves be a little less modest about.


Reviewed by Tom Francis


Clapham Fringe 2018

The Gap

Bread & Roses Theatre


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Austen The Musical | ★★★★ | January 2018
Blue Moon | ★★★ | January 2018
F*ckingLifeMate | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Talos II | ★★★ | March 2018
The Buzz | ★★★ | May 2018
Once a Year on Blackpool Sands | ★★★★ | June 2018
Richard II – Shakespeare | ★★ | August 2018
Metamorphosis | ★★★★ | October 2018


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