Review: A Voyage Round My Father @ Lichfield Garrick

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

So-called amateur theatre is going through a Golden Age in Lichfield, in the process filling a gap commercial theatre ignores, that of the classic well-constructed play, beautifully acted, which the public actually wants to see. This ambitious production of John Mortimer’s famous autobiographical work subtly directed here by Rosemary Bodger is a perfect case in point, stacked as it is with a large cast of talented actors and all the more effective for being in the intimacy of the Garrick Studio.

Ian Davies brings the sardonic, distant yet exacting blind father of the title to life by the eerie device of never making eye contact, a reflection of his words which in turn show a disconcerting lack of emotional engagement with others including his long-suffering and selfless wife, here marvellously played down by Adrienne Swallow.

Growing up with such a remote father can’t have been easy, but Bill Killick as young John gives a beautifully restrained performance which makes it easy to accept that the hands-off parenting of pre-war years was the norm rather than the exception in middle class households.

Taking us from Mortimer’s childhood via boarding school to a brush with the film world, marriage, early disappointments during an enforced legal career and eventual success as a dramatist this marvellous ensemble production marshals an impressive cast of more than twenty to tell its episodic tale.

I just can’t mention everybody, suffice it to say it’s packed with favourite faces but I simply must mention the young actors in this stellar cast, Lewis Stanley, scion of a well-known dynasty, and Nick and Olivia Baker who are simply superb. No problem seeing where the next seventy years of company triumphs will be coming from. This is a classic Players production, a privilege to watch.

A Voyage Round My Father runs in the Garrick Studio until Saturday (March 29).

For tickets phone 01543 412121 or visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com.

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