Schenectady Civic Players’ The Father is Worth the Watch
Written by Staff on January 20, 2024
Schenectady Civic Players’ The Father is Worth the Watch – by Joanna Palladino.
Schenectady Civic Players’ production of Florian Zeller’s play The Father is an honest yet emotional look at aging through the eyes of a father with dementia. The play, written in French and translated by Christopher Hampton, explores universal themes such as family, connectedness, alienation, obligation, and the sometimes cruel realities that dementia can place on caregivers and those impacted by the illness. The Father is written from the perspective of Andre, the father afflicted with dementia and played perfectly by Gary Maggio. Maggio’s Andre is charming, quick witted, determined, unsentimental and yet heartbreaking at the same time.
The play flows from scene to scene, often replaying a scene so the audience can participate in the cloudiness and confusion Andre encounters. Directed by David Rook and Assistant Director Evan Jones, The Father carefully allows the audience to see Andre through his own eyes and as others see him. The excellent supporting cast Colleen Lovett as the dutiful daughter Anne; Tony Pallone as the supportive and menacing Pierre; Ashley Schuliger as the effervescent Laura; Michael Schaefer as Man; and Amy Hausknecht as Woman artfully deliver performances that weave in moments of compassion, frustration, darkness, fear, and savage honesty. The cast provides the perfect support to Maggio’s Andre and allows him to deliver a performance imbued with fragility and ferocity. Maggio delivers one of his best performances to date. While the content of the play may discourage some people to attend, Maggio’s performance is reason enough to get tickets and attend this play.
Of special note is the sound design by David Rook and Brian Starnes. Director David Rook knew exactly what he wanted for scene transition music and relied on the minimalist work of Philip Glass’ “Metamorphosis,” a piece in five movements. Starnes sliced the five movements into about twenty different unique segments and fit them into the fifteen scene transitions. Rook and Starnes felt that using an entire Glass composition would give the fifteen scenes more cohesion, and its simplicity would place the focus on the actors, set and lighting elements. Speaking of set and lighting elements – kudos to Paul Hesse for set construction, Elise Charlebois for set dressing, Robin MacDuffie for set design and construction, and Nicky Lightz for lighting design.
Back to the music, for the “bow” music, Starnes and Rook used another Philip Glass piece titled “Mad Rush” to provide a bit of relief to the audience after such a heavy play. The pre-show music was also thoughtfully selected and is an eclectic mix of songs that don’t give the audience many preconceived notions about the play. While some songs are well known, Starnes and Rook also used a song composed by Rook’s daughter Tara Rook (under the name “Just Milk”) titled “Think We Need to Have Us an Adventure.” Also included is a beautiful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” by NYC based singer songwriter Ari Hest. The playlist also includes gems such as “Waking Up in Paris” by The Hot Sardines and “This is My Life” by Lisa Loeb.
Schenectady Civic Players’ production of The Father is a worthwhile night of theater. If the themes seem too much for you, I encourage you to go to see this play to see Gary Maggio deliver one of the most brilliant pieces of acting these local stages have to offer.
Shows run from January 19-21 and 24-28. The run time is 80 minutes with no intermission. For ticket information you can go to: https://www.civicplayers.org/thefather
Facebook Event page: https://fb.me/e/121p4cU8H
Evan Jones – Assistant Director
Beth Swallow – Stage Manager and Co-Producer
Thorn Burnham – Assistant Stage Manager
Brian Starnes – Sound Design
Nicky Lightz – Lighting Design
Robin McDuffie – Set Design and Construction
Paul Hesse – Set Construction
Elise Charlebois – Set Decoration – Props – Board Operator
Beth Ruman – Costumes and Co-Producer
Molly Waters – Fight Choreographer
Michael Schaefer – (Cast as “Man”) – Production Manager
Jennifer Van Iderstyne – Co-Producer
Photos by Jen Moak and David Quiñones Jr.
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