1 March 2019

The Son at Kiln Theatre was gripping

I discovered the works of Florian Zeller more or less by accident. His play, The Father, was on at Richmond Theatre and as a regular visitor there I took a chance on it. That compelled me to see The Mother when it came to Richmond Theatre prior to a west-end run. I was mightily impressed by both plays so going to see The Son was an easy choice to make.

The venue this time was Kiln Theatre in Kilburn which used to be Tricycle Theatre and had recently reopened under its new name following an extensive refurbishment. This included a new cafe area facing the main road where I had a coffee and something to eat. There is also a good-sized bar and restaurant area but all the tables there had been booked and I was not in the mood for a full meal any way.

The oddly shaped theatre, with rows of seats on either side not facing the stage, was much as it was though all the seats had been replaced. I recalled that the raking in the stalls was quite shallow and so I went for the circle instead where my centre seat, A7, cost me a perfectly reasonable £32.5.

The Son in question was a late teenage boy living with his mother after his father left them to start a new family with another woman.

The story started with the mother telling the father that their son had become moody and was skipping school. The mother could no longer cope and thought that the father was better placed to look after him, especially after some of the things that the son had said about the father.

What followed was almost two hours of extreme teenage tribulations and the various attempts to solve them by all three parents.

As with The Father and The Mother, the heart of the play was the in-depth examination of the intra-family relationships and some of the key events that had shaped them. It was gripping stuff from beginning to end and the 105 minutes flew past.

This was one occasion where the stage direction had a clear and dramatic impact. This was particularly true when the mother and father were talking to each other taking confrontational stances some distance from each other. The father was demonstrative throughout trying to exert the power of his position when that was of no use to the situation. He was as lost as his son.

Throughout the play there was a lot of talking but not much listening and that made the son's problem difficult to solve.

There was a happy ending, of sorts, but only after a lot of pain and some bad things that could not be undone.

I loved The Son as much as I loved The Father and The Mother, and for all the same reasons. It was an excellent play superbly presented and well acted.

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