Directed by Stuart Owen
Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre
City Road, Chippendale
Season: 15 – 19 September
A staple style in the comedy genre is that of the farce, which, with all the right ingredients can come together in riotous hilarity. Drawing upon these core ingredients, the production of Our Father Who Art (Nearly) in Heaven unfolds to allow laughter to fill the theatre.
The play incorporates some familiar tropes whereby a man suffers a heart attack and as he nears the end of his life, his family returns in droves to ingratiate themselves to him and claim a piece of the inheritance. However, some of the well-known stock characters employed and the recognisable scenarios are pulled off with flair and injected with new life. Finger’s writing infuses the unravelling events with contemporary and up-to-date humour that would bring a sparkle to anyone’s eye. Nearing the end of the storyline, proceedings could have perhaps been tightened up to make the work shorter and snappier, and pack a harder punch.
The director, Stuart Owen, also takes on a leading role as Ben and presents a nuanced performance, the audience warming to him and enjoying his journey as more of his character is revealed. Chris Heaslip undertakes a leading role as Damian, Ben’s brother, alongside the task of Assistant Directing. Both Owen and Heaslip illustrate strong competency in their directorial vision, as well as their individual artistic decisions as performers. A pleasant surprise was in the performance of the Butler, portrayed by Richard Clark. Whilst a slightly eccentric butler may be a role audiences have become accustomed to, its humour proved lasting and Clark sold it. Overall, each cast member conveyed his or her role accordingly with strong distinction. Occasionally inexperience was evident, but the actors ultimately had the confidence as an ensemble to keep the laughs coming.
The farce as a comedy classic is one with which we don’t want to lose touch – Our Father Who Art (Nearly) in Heaven brings the style to life with a modern edge to appeal to today’s audience. As characters overcome with greed unite in acts of derision at a man’s deathbed…you know drollery will ensue. For countless chuckles at a night at the theatre, Our Father Who Art (Nearly) in Heaven should do the trick.