REVIEW: The Son, Duke of York’s Theatre

Transferring to the West End following a successful run at the Kiln Theatre earlier this year, Florian Zeller’s emotionally charged play captures the audience’s attention from start to finish.

(c)Marc Brenner.

In a time in which mental health is of increasing importance in the news, Florian Zeller’s powerful examination of this as seen through the eyes of a teenager and his parents is an extraordinary piece of work that shows the impact that depression has on not only Nicholas himself but also his parents.

Teenager Nicholas is struggling to deal with his parents divorce and so decides to move in with his father, thinking that it will help him get better at coping with life. But as Nicholas begins to spiral out of control can anything bring him back from the brink?

Completing Florian Zeller’s trilogy of work, following on from The Father and The Mother, The Son is a devastatingly raw piece of drama that sensitively reveals just how huge the impact of depression is on an entire family. Brilliantly and emotionally engagingly translated by Christopher Hampton, this is a piece of writing that draws you in from the start and never relinquishes its hold until the very end. As well as looking deeply at the psychological impact on all of the characters, it also examines the increasing impact Nicholas’s mental health is having on the relationships around him.

(c) Marc Brenner

Directed with great power by Michael Longhurst, in every scene you feel every emotion that the characters go through deeply – particularly during devastating reveals such as the discovery that Nicholas keeps a knife under his bed or the heartbreaking decision that parents Pierre and Anna are forced to make. This is a production that makes you sit up and take notice of it in a subtle way, while managing to devastate the audience.

Everything about this production is completely natural, adding to poignancy of the story. Lizzie Clachan’s white and contemporary designed set that is so shockingly trashed by Nicholas perfectly highlights the power of the story and is used to great effect – particularly during the moments between Pierre and Nicholas feeling surprisingly intimate despite the space that surrounds them. Meanwhile, Isobel Waller-Bridge’s sound design amps up the tension beautifully, while Lee Curran’s lighting design is strikingly simple but powerful.

The performances from all of the cast are simply phenomenal. Laurie Kynaston as Nicholas perfectly captures the character’s inner torment to heartwrenching effect – particularly when he matter of factly say in response as to why he self-harms: ” it’s a way to channel the pain” – its a raw and honest performance that is mesmerising to watch. Amanda Abbington as Anna offers a vulnerable and deeply moving performance of a mother who feels that her best isn’t good enough, while hoping to rekindle her relationship with Pierre.

John Light offers an intense performance as Pierre, reflecting his character’s sense of guilt of how he could have recognised the signs that his son was suffering with great understanding. Meanwhile, Amaka Pkafor offers a frank performance as Sofia, Pierre’s new wife who feels increasingly neglected and is perhaps the only one to truly spot how troubled Nicholas really is as highlighted in the scene in which she refuses to let Nicholas babysit her son.

The Son is a heartbreaking but a powerfully honest piece of drama that is truly a must-see.

By Emma Clarendon

The Son will play at the Duke of York’s Theatre until the 2nd November. To book tickets click here or visit: Love Theatre.comLast Minute.comTheatre Tickets TicketsFrom the Box OfficeEncore Tickets .

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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