[author-post-rating] (4/5 Stars)
It’s not often a piece of theatre can pierce me like an arrow and strike my heart. This was the sensation I felt after leaving Babakas’s Our Fathers at Summerhall, as if I’d been completely unaware that I was walking into a show that would strike some forgotten sensation inside of me. Shaking and in desperate need of a hug, it’s fair to say Our Fathers is the first show to make me want to call home to my father, and fix a widening gap whilst I held back the tears. Devised by the company, this slow burning piece explores the relationships and divides between fathers and their sons with poignancy and charm.
Mike Tweddle receives an email from a friend of his dead father asking if he will assist in fathering a child. Mike’s boyfriend, Bert Roman, is less convinced, suffering from a strained relationship with his own father over his sexuality, whilst their flatmate Sofia Paschou can’t get her dad out of her day-to-day life long enough to start a relationship. Our Fathers seeks the support and understanding of a father’s relationship with their son, asking for advice, provoking a reaction and recognising the divides that form over time.
Using film footage and diary entries by Tweedle’s father as a stimulus, the ensemble explores the relationship that was cut short between Tweedle and his father by the father’s death. They attempt to discover the advice and bond that would have been shared if they could speak to each other today. Paschou uses her “sexy Greek accent” to try to build a temporary relationship before her father, a looming shadow on a screen, gets in her way. This becomes wonderfully comic as she shares a glass of wine with one man, and wraps herself up under a duvet with another. Roman meanwhile refuses to explore the relationship he has with his father, who, being a devout Christian, disapproves of Roman’s sexuality and relationship. Together, these relationships chip away at what it means to be a father.
There is an undeniable love that shines from the Babakas ensemble. Their sense of ease on stage coupled with the heartfelt warmth that their explorations provide makes you steadily melt in your seat. The question of adoption and fathering/mothering of gay families is a topical subject. Where Russia is setting about laws to restrict the acceptance of gay people in society and for tourists, here in the UK we’re celebrating the legalising of gay marriage. How divided the world seems when there are such extremes being played out within Europe, and further afield. This, overlaid with the human and basic instinct of loving your father makes Our Fathers a powerful piece of theatre. It’s devastatingly subtle, and one that creeps up to provide a crescendo that overpowers and outweighs emotion. A real gem at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Our Fathers is playing at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 25 August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe Festival website.