HONG KONG – Aging is a universal part of life. But what happens when that comes riddled with problems like Alzheimer’s? What changes occur to his body and mind? What difficulties and dilemmas do his family face?
French playwright Florian Zeller’s Le Père (The Father) explores these changes from the perspective of the patient, chronicling the experience firsthand as an ageing man slowly loses touch with the world around him, unable to trust his own memory. Staged to critical acclaim in various forms around the world (including Singapore), Le Père won the 2014 Molière Award for Best Play, and was also subsequently nominated for Olivier and Tony awards. Zeller also directed the film adaptation, The Father, which received its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and starred Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.
HKRep’s premiere of this work in 2017 garnered four accolades at the 27th Hong Kong Drama Awards, including Best Actor (Tragedy/Drama) for Director Laureate Fredric Mao. Translated by Dr. Sonia Au, HKRep will restage the production this July, as directed by Assistant Artistic Director Fung Wai Hang, and featuring returning cast members Fredric Mao with Alice Lau, Pang Hang Ying and HKRep company member Ko Hon Man, Chris Sun, Mercy Wong and Kiki Cheung.
As her elderly father André (Fredric Mao) gradually loses his ability to live by himself, Anne (Pang Hang Ying) moves him to live with her and her boyfriend, tending to his daily needs. Her father, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, vacillates between cheerful moods and states of confusion. His “reality” gradually dissolves, challenging their father-daughter relationship. Shouldering filial love and her responsibility to family, Anne is under tremendous pressure to make the “appropriate” decision. Can her father regain control of his own spirit and decide his own fate at the last moments of his life?
Le Père’s Hong Kong premiere in 2017 and re-run in 2019 enjoyed completely sold-out performances totalling 30 shows, receiving four accolades at the 27th Hong Kong Drama Awards for Best Director (Tragedy/Drama), Best Actor (Tragedy/Drama), Best Lighting Design, as well as Outstanding Production of the Year. For its second re-run, HKRep Director Laureate Fredric Mao again returns in the title role.
Director Fung Wai Hang comments on revisiting this contemporary masterpiece: “As we greet the second re-run of Le Père, I strongly believe in the work’s importance in taking the audience into the minds of Alzheimer’s patients and letting us explore the world they live in. According to research, the number of adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease has seen a gradual increase in Hong Kong, thus Le Père reminds us all to face the issue squarely and with empathy. Previous runs of this play have created great resonance in our community, bringing comfort to patients and their caregivers. I sincerely dedicate Le Père to friends suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as well as their caregivers and medical personnel, sending them my well wishes and support!”
Special guest actor Fredric Mao may be playing the title role for a third time, but remains moved by the script. “Le Père is a play about an old man afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and how his family handles the situation. Not only does the play make us understand the pain and suffering brought by the ailment, it also tells the story from the patient’s perspective, which is filled with surprise, suspense, fantasy and mind-bogglingly hilarious moments. It is no wonder that Florian Zeller calls Le Père a ‘tragic farce’! Since its premiere in 2017, our production has received much enthusiastic response and support from audiences, leading to re-runs in 2019 and 2020. I’m delighted to continue sharing the message of this play as the ‘father’.”
Le Père plays from 17th July to 1st August 2020 at Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. More information and tickets available here
HKRep’s 2020-21 season is now available for booking on www.hkrep.com/2021.