Discover what critics have had to say about Anupama Chandrasekhar’s play now being performed at the National Theatre.
WhatsOnStage: **** “It is both epic and easy, filling a difficult space with the sweep of history but, more importantly, with an engaging play of ideas, as it seeks to explain what makes a young man become a fanatic.”
The Reviews Hub: *** “The Father and the Assassin is a mixed bag, elevated by Saraf’s central performance. This is a personal triumph for him. He owns the stage from start to finish and makes what could have resembled a wearying dissertation on Indian political history at least bearable and frequently entertaining, even though nothing in this story is really a laughing matter.”
The Telegraph: *** “Anupama Chandrasekhar’s play, at the National’s Olivier Theatre, is fascinating and topical but doesn’t have you on the edge of your seat.”
The Guardian: **** “It needs a powerful actor to hold the centre as Godse, and in Shubham Saraf it gets one. He allows playfulness to billow through his body before resentment starts to corrupt it into a cock-strut of childish vindictiveness and finally into the farcical posturing of a desperado who knows he’s been had, but can’t work out by who, or what to do about it other than to pull the trigger.”
Evening Standard: *** “Rubasingham choreographs the action smoothly on Rajha Shakiry’s simple set of sunbaked slopes before a fraying fabric backdrop, suggestive of Gandhi’s boycott of British textiles. But at the end, I felt I’d had a lot of history explained to me, rather than being immersed in it.”
Culture Whisper: **** “The Father and The Assassin blends historical fact and imaginative licence in a smooth, plausible tale with just a couple of implausible scenes. In a vibrant, fast-moving production directed by Indhu Rubasingham (Red Velvet, The Wife of Willesden), the Olivier Theatre’s capacious stage becomes variously Godse’s childhood home, the study where the politicians hammered out their plans for independence, the villages where repression by the British authorities led to rebellion, and finally the prison where Godse and his co-conspirator Narayan Apte (Sid Sagar) were held after the murder and ultimately hanged.”
London Unattached: “The Father and The Assassin is as politically engaging as Lincoln and as thrilling as any episode of Mindhunter, this is something beyond its own history – its exceptionally well-executed drama. It’s one of those shows that just works. Call it chemistry, call it relevance, call it Shubham Saraf’s genius performance, it all ticks together. I will jump at the chance to go again.”
Broadway World: **** “Political plays can thrill as well as challenge their audiences. The Father and the Assassin entwines bold and searching questions with effectively executed drama to create a majestic theatrical tapestry.”
Time Out: ***** “It’s also a great production technically: the Olivier can be a graveyard for new work, but director Indhu Rubasingham makes it look easy. Against the abstract, evocative backdrop of Rajha Shakiry’s set of unravelling fabric, the action unfolds on a clean, largely uncluttered stage, picked out dextrously by Oliver Fenwick’s lighting. There are props, but nothing ostentatious. The humans go front and centre, chiefly the extraordinary Saraf who frequently stands right on the lip of the stage to chat to us – a human special effect.”
The Arts Desk: **** “Anupama Chandrasekhar argues, with humour and invention, against political extremism.”
The Stage: **** “Epic and ambitious character piece showcases a chilling central performance by Shubham Saraf as Mohandas Gandhi’s murderer.”
The Upcoming: ***** “Though there is not much known about Godse, Anupama Chandrasekhar successfully weaves together fact and fiction to create a plausible case for what could have been, without overwhelming the audience with the vast history of India. This is achieved somewhat through the caricature of Gandhi, played by Paul Bazely, providing comic relief to the otherwise harrowing scenes in the play.”
The Father and the Assassin continues to play at the National Theatre until the 18th June.