As memory fades into the nebulous world between reality and illusion
Director Laureate Fredric Mao returns to HKRep
to play the title role in Le Père (The Father)
【Hong Kong Repertory Theatre】As memory fades and “reality” gradually dissolves, a man slowly regresses to his childish mental state as he nears life’s finish line. The impact of an Alzheimer’s patient on his family and caregivers, let alone himself, is enormous. As the world’s aging population increases, Alzheimer’s disease has also become an important health issue in our society. Le Père was written in 2012 by one of France’s most popular young playwrights, Florian Zeller, receiving critical praise for its realistic portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease and its effects. Winner of the 2014 Molière Award for Best Play, Le Père was also nominated for the Olivier and Tony Awards. The Cantonese version of this play is translated by Sonia Au. Directed by HKRep Assistant Artistic Director Fung Wai Hang, Le Père’s cast features Director Laureate Fredric Mao in the title role with associate artist Pang Hang Ying, guest artist Alice Lau and HKRep company members Ko Hon Man, Chris Sun and Mercy Wong. The production runs from October 19th to November 3rd at the Hong Kong Arts Centre Shouson Theatre. Tickets are available now from URBTIX outlets.
Le Père follows the story of an elderly father, André (played by Fredric Mao) gradually loses his ability to be independent. His daughter, Anne (played by Pang Hang Ying) moves him in to live with her and her boyfriend, tending to daily necessities. André suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, vacillates between humorous disposition and state of confusion. “Reality” gradually dissolves in his mind, creating many problems between parent and child. Shouldering filial love and her responsibility to family, Anne is under tremendous pressure. She is forced to make an “appropriate” decision. Her father struggles hard for survival, but will he be able to decide his own fate?
The playscript of Le Père is conceived from the viewpoint of the father—the Alzheimer’s patient—as he hangs on the precipice before descending into the abyss. How does his family confront this transition? To Director Fung Wai Hang, the play is well-crafted: different men and women appear in the father’s projected memory, but who is real and who are only figments of his imagination? Each of these scenes reflects the father’s different states of mind, which is a distinguishing feature of this play.
Director Laureate Fredric Mao acknowledges Le Père is among the most appealing works he’s encountered in recent years, because it alternates heart-wrenching episodes with moments of surprise and humour. The subject matter is truly meaningful, since Alzheimer’s disease has become all and more prevalent in our world. It has been more than a decade since Fredric Mao has acted on stage, and the opportunity to work with the HKRep delights him. To appear on stage with company members he had led a decade ago will present an interesting experience to all.
Le Père is a realistic portrait of a man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Along with a thoughtful set design, lighting and costumes, the play takes the audience by the hand into the bewildered mental state of the father—as memories begin to fade and bodily functions fall into disrepair, he stands on the cusp between reality and illusion as confusion ensues.
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