After a sellout debut at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre in 2022, Edinburgh based theatre company, Surrogate, brings Who Killed My Father back to the stage for a Scottish tour.
The play, that has been adapted and directed by the company’s founder and artistic director, Nora Wardell, is based on the 2018 autofiction book Qui a Tué Mon Père by celebrated young French author and philosopher, Édouard Louis.
The book was based Édouard’s experiences as a homosexual growing up in a small town working class Northern France household. The narrator, a role reprised by Michael Marcus who brings authenticity to the part, confronts his now seriously ailing and dependent middle aged father following an accident at work about their relationship.
The monologue is a direct personal address from a son seeking love and attention from a father, but the text is written using the second person pronoun and delivered by the actor facing the audience for much of the performance, giving an albeit unwitting sense of being harangued.
Father and son are ostensibly at opposite ends of the spectrum of masculinity. Édouard’s dance moves to Barbie Girl are ignored along with his preference to drowning in endless viewings of Titanic rather than play with the model boat of the famous liner his Papa bought him. And yet this apparently insensitive man seduced Édouard’s mother by wearing cologne and being a good dancer.
The theme of the personal and the political are deeply entwined in Édouard Louis’ work and one that he justly highlights, as in the written statement that’s made on stage reading “hatred of homosexuality = poverty.”
The production would perhaps benefit from a starker more minimalistic set. As it was, many of the props added nothing to the performance with the likes of the model of the Titanic and a toy car merely gilding the lily. What worked better was the array of images of major French politicians that were posted on a screen like a police crime scene after announcing each of their damning policies. The book’s title is notably not a question but a statement whose powerful message, of the undeniable and totally recognisable social injustices and their very real human consequences, lies at the heart of the work.
The Spring tour began at Cumbernauld Theatre on 27th April, going on to venues across the country including Mull Theatre; Dumfries Theatre Royal; the Byre Theatre, St Andrews; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh; MacArts in Galashiels; Platform Easterhouse, Glasgow; the Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock; Universal Hall, Findhorn; An Lanntair in Stornoway; Eden Court, Inverness before closing at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen on 30th May.
Running time 75 mins Age recommend 16+