In March we staged Florian Zeller’s play ‘The Father’ at New Venture, and I undertook the set and lighting design for the production. The central character is André, an elderly man suffering from dementia. We see the action through André’s eyes, which is why he can’t recognise the changing identity of the two women who seem to be his daughter Anne.
The action apparently takes place in Andre’s flat, but does it really? The final scenes are set in the antiseptic environment of a nursing home – but maybe that’s where André’s really been all along . . .
Over successive scenes, the domestic elements of André’s flat gradually disappear. We had to do the prop removal in darkness, with the audience’s perception blocked by music and dazzling light.
There were evening scenes, too, where the family ate dinner in the apartment. Later the dining table would be spirited away with the rest of the furnishings, along with Delphine du Barry’s powerful paintings.
I love creating theatre sets which aren’t static, and I’m really committed to avoiding messy, time-consuming scene changes. All of the changes in ‘The Father’, including the transformation of the sofa into the care-home bed, took place in less than fifteen seconds.