Tuesday 19 September 2023

The Father And The Assassin - Review

National Theatre, London


Written by Anupama Chandrasekhar 
Directed byIndhu Rubasingham

Hiran Abeysekera

The Father And The Assassin is a well researched look at Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Ghandi. Anupama Chandrasekhar’s play charts Godse’s life, exploring what may have sparked his right-wing nationalist Hindu beliefs that were to set him so fatally at odds with Ghandi. On stage throughout, Hiran Abeysekera turns in a top-notch performance as Godse. 

But 10/10 for history doesn’t translate to 5-star drama. Chandrasekhar’s narrative plays out more like a shallow Godse biopic rather than an engaging dramatic analysis. 

History’s lesser known characters have often proved good meat for skilled dramatists - think what Peter Shaffer made of Salieri in Amadeus, or the makeover that Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber afforded to Eva Peron in Evita, both A* studies of B-grade people. Chandrasekhar's work is not in the same league, with The Father And The Assassin proving a very lengthy 2 1/2 hours in the Olivier. Compounding matters, Indhu Rubasingham’s direction focusses more on her actors’ shouting than on having them explore their characters’ depth. The script’s frequent fourth-wall breakouts prove to be a lazy gimmick. The 1940s partitioning of the subcontinent is respectfully played out, however the bashing of the colonising Brits is a tired, expected clichĂ©.

A good history lesson but a dull night at the theatre.

Runs until 14th October
Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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