The final part of the trilogy, The Son, transfers to the West End with a flurry of four and five star reviews from a sold-out opening at Kilburn's Kiln Theatre.
The show follows Nicolas, a teenager who is struggling with everyday life: he skips school, bounces between his divorced parents’ houses, deprives himself of social interaction, and sinks ever deeper into an excessive gloom. His lawyer father Pierre desperately stokes Nicolas’ drive for life. But for all his efforts, Pierre pushes his son further into the depths of depression.
When repeatedly asked by both parents, “What is wrong? What is happening to you?” Nicolas is unable and unwilling to answer. The sparseness of his understanding seems intentional on the part of wordsmith Florian Zeller: Nicolas knows something inside him isn’t right, but doesn’t what it is, or doesn’t have the vocabulary to express it. Zeller doesn’t express it either. However, it seems like this skilled playwright is letting down his audience by not giving them a glimpse of the subtleties behind Nicolas’ mental health problems.
There are moments of light to contrast with Nicolas’ diminishing condition, including a bombastic dance-off between father, son and step-mum, who all bop to the beats of the ironically played Happy by Pharrell Williams. It’s a flash of joy in this anguished household.
Solid, subtle performances emanate from the entire cast. The youthful Laurie Kynaston immerses himself with a genuine fragility as the subdued and deeply distressed Nicolas. John Light as Pierre is intentionally stilted, increasingly baring his emotional anguish as the desperation to save his son peaks. Amaka Okafor plays the supportive, put-upon stepmother Sofia; she is a shining beacon in this progressively dark piece. Michael Longhurst directs with his usual precision and flair, eking out the nuances of this hyper naturalistic play.
The Son is not an easy watch, especially for those who have personal experiences of depression and recognise the absence of answers to fundamental questions that swirl within this mental illness. However, it does provide an affecting account of one family begging to be released from this very real, very common mental affliction.
Tickets for The Son at Duke of York's Theatre are now on sale. Click here to book.
|What||The Son, Duke of York's Theatre review|
|Where||Duke of York's Theatre, St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4BG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
24 Aug 19 – 02 Nov 19, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|