Warwick Arts Centre, Studio
12th June 2012
babakas have created a touching and interactive piece of theatre that both challenges and celebrates the notion of fatherhood without ever becoming sentimental. Although the piece is perhaps not as fluid as their white box/empty stage demands, the company’s work makes for an entertaining and educative hour.
The piece begins with a wonderful Sofia Paschou’s interaction with several members of the audience, displaying adept comic timing as she descends from the raking, introducing herself several times to the potential father figures to her unborn children. This journey or search seems to be the main dramatic structure of the piece, holding together the three actors’ stories of (presumably) their own fathers and their influence.
The absent father, the domineering father, the larger-than-life “buffoon”: the company cleverly manipulate us and themselves through shadow-play, music, projection and dance to learn about and challenge their perceptions of their fathers. What do they think of them, and how close is this to reality? Do we idealise, underestimate or otherwise skew our perceptions of our fathers?
The piece asks interesting questions but at no point did the play become about our own relationship with our fathers. It being Fathers’ Day this weekend, I thought that the audience would be called on more to recall their own fathers rather than being placed as fathers themselves (or, in case of the women in the audience, merely bearing witness). I concede the play is clearly “Our Fathers”, and the actors keep their own names indicating that this is from real life, but I think for the production to develop further, an element of extension is required to fully entrance later audiences. There is material that could be cut from the current play to make way for more space for the audience to be involved and for a more universal relevance to come to light: fatherhood could be explored more effectively in this way.
The company’s prowess is, however, extremely proficient and I would be interested in seeing what they do next: all three devise, dance, move and engage (and one even directs) with a topic that is perhaps not given enough attention: those who shape us.
The piece is still in development and the company are still taking feedback on their ongoing performances here.