Tag Archives: Zena Carswell

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

Click here to read all our latest reviews


Tomorrow Creeps – 4 Stars


Tomorrow Creeps

The Vaults

Reviewed – 25th January 2018


“an intense kaleidoscope that is so vivid that it takes on a breathing, seething life of its own”


We take our seats in the dingy Cavern room in the Vaults at Waterloo. Drops of murky water drip from the ceiling, and the audience lines the stage on two sides. A thick, dimly-lit haze hangs over the stage, where the figure of a man can just be made out. David Fairs’ Tomorrow Creeps is weird before it has even begun. As a story of ghosts and madness inspired by the storytelling of Kate Bush and drawn from sixteen works from Shakespeare, weirdness is clearly high on the agenda for theatre company Golem!

The text of the play is a mixture of original writing and borrowed lines of Shakespeare, decontextualised and applied to this new, strange situation. This is a surprisingly smooth fusion that feels darkly archaic rather than simply Shakespearian and adds yet another complex, murky layer to this unique production. Unfortunately, the Kate Bush additions may have been an experiment too far, as the sudden, and mercifully sparing, sequences set to ‘80s pop hits draw nervous laughter from an unconvinced audience.

Those sections are blemish on the face of what is otherwise a stunningly visceral production. From start to finish, Tomorrow Creeps is an intense kaleidoscope that is so vivid that it takes on a breathing, seething life of its own. From the subterranean setting, to meticulous use of props and lighting, to the fact that all three actors take their bow exhausted and filthy, it is impossible to imagine that something occult has not taken place for real. The ordeal, with all its rage and the mania, is genuine.

Tomorrow Creeps is so ambitious and devastatingly odd that, inevitably, some parts come a little unstuck. While the Cavern is a wonderfully atmospheric environment, its length and acoustics meant that some sections of dialogue could easily become lost; in an unfamiliar play about madness with remixed text without obvious scene transitions, it is inevitable that some sections become difficult to follow. Nevertheless, this is an intoxicating and unique production that deserves its place at the forefront of contemporary fringe theatre.


Reviewed by Matthew Wild


Tomorrow Creeps

Vaults Theatre until 28th January



Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com