David Ellenstein provides exceptional direction with “The Father,” by Florian Zeller. Ellenstein’s instincts are razor sharp, directing an aging man named Andre, (superbly played by James Sutorius,) with many layers, offering a supportive cast. “The Father,” is superbly executed, poignantly portrayed with sensitivity, for a delicate yet common subject.
“The Father” has been translated into many languages as the subject matter is universal. Andre, presents through his heart and soul, confusing, often mercurial and frustrating emotions. The family learns to cope brilliantly with the human condition.
James Sutorius gives 110% of himself in this brilliant, story of a man struggling with memory, life, time, and his presence in the world. This outstanding performance is more than believable to anyone who has lived with Atzheimers, dementia or the aging process in general. Although apparently physically fit, each day becomes Ground Hog’s Day as those around him endure this debilitating disease with dignity, patience and love. We leave the theatre believing Andre is a member of our family, or a friend we have known over the years as we identify painfully with his caregivers and often with Andre himself.
The loss of Andre’s watch becomes a metaphor for time in many ways. Did someone steal his watch? Where did he misplace it? Time has eluded him once again as well as his memory of faces, places, people and things. We are given clues, as he mentions there is a timepiece in his head and one on his wrist. Lauded for his lifetime of punctuality, there comes a time when Andre has difficulty showing up on time in his own life. Is it 8:00 a.m. or p.m.?
As Andre admires someone else’s watch, did they buy it? Was it a gift? Time cannot be purchased, yet is a gift that Andre continually misplaces, becoming maddening to him and those around him.
James Sutorius executes this role with dignity, humor, anger, sadness and desperation, running the gamut of emotions in a circular way. His long list of credits include: Broadway: “The Farnsworth Invention,” “Conversations With My Father,” “The Changing Room,” and “Hamlet.” He has performed Off Broadway, with Best Actor’s Award for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,”(Best Actor Award,) “The Savannah Disputation,” The Old Globe, “Glengarry Glen Ross,”(nominated Best Featured Actor Award, La Jolla Playhouse) and countless quality productions both on stage and Film/TV.
All of the actors in supportive roles performed exceptionally in a believable and heartfelt manner.
Robyn Cohen, (Anne), is excellent as his supportive, patient and loving daughter. Although this is her North Coast Rep debut, her credits include: “The Exonerated,” opposite Jeff Goldblum, countless plays and appearances on “Law & Order True Crime,” and “N.C.I.S.” Select Films include: Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic,” opposite Bill Murray and “The Celestine Prophecy.”
Matthew Salazar-Thompson as Pierre, has performed at the La Jolla Playhouse in: “The Car Plays,” “The Grift,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” Intrepid Theatre, multiple roles at the North Coast Rep, including, “The Spitfire Grill,” “The Odd Couple,” and many others. T.V. credits include: “C.S.I.,” “Veronica Mars,” “Fashion House,” “Frasier,” ”Days of Our Lives” and many more.
Jacque Wilke, (Laura), thrilled to be back on stage at North Coast Rep has credits through North Coast Repertory Theatre, including: “Unnecessary Farce,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” “The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler,” and many more including additional theatrical work.
Richard Baird, (Man), is an award-winning actor, director and producer. Twenty productions at North Coast Rep including: “Around the World in Eighty Days,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Travels with My Aunt,” and many more. Richard has appeared in regional theatres across the country.
Shana Wride, (Woman), recently won the 2017 San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award for her solo performance in “2.5 Minute Ride at Diversionary Theatre.” She has appeared at North Coast Rep in “The Cocktail Hour,” “Faded Glory,” “Broken Glass,” and “The Hasty Heart.” Other credits include work as an actor and director both regionally and locally.