A Voyage Around My Father: Next Stage, Mission Theatre, Bath
A Voyage Around My Father
Mission Theatre, Bath
Originally written for radio in 1963, A Voyage Around My Father was adapted for the West End stage in 1971, and directed by Ann Garner 40 years ago for the Octagon Theatre in Bath.
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While it's a nostalgic memoir of his brilliant but blind barrister father, John Mortimer's play is also partly autobiographical.
Far from an easy parent, it's nevertheless an affectionate portrayal of a difficult man who didn't suffer fools, or almost anyone else, gladly.
Some of father's qualities, good and bad, obviously passed on to his son, also a successful barrister and, of course writer. His Rumpole of the Bailey was partly based on his father.
The play also affords a humorous glimpse of Mortimer's early school days, when pupils were warned about the perils of being befriended by older boys. "The only drawback to our public school system is unsolicited cake," he is told by the headmaster, when moving on to senior school.
His father also warns him about the dangers of opium leading to constipation, "Remember Coleridge, green about the gills and a stranger to the lavatory."
Just over a dozen members of the cast play around 30 hugely different characters with great success, including graduates from Next Stage youth, Lydia Cook, Georgi Bassil, Hannah Smith, Miles Aiken and James Langley.
An enjoyable evening, combining humour, pathos and insight into family life of a slowly disappearing age. Great fun and much appreciated by the first night audience, including Bath's mayor and mayoress.
It runs until Saturday.