Pros: A well-written script that explores the relationship between a father and his daughter.
Cons: The actors could have spoken up when delivering their lines; they were difficult to hear at times.
Yaw Asiyama’s look into the very deep and often-tumultuous relationship that can exist between fathers and daughters touches something profound within the heart.
Gary Calandro plays a retired soldier, the father of Angelina (Melissa Parke). We are first introduced to him as reads in his favourite chair as Billie Holiday’s God Bless the Child plays in the background. His daughter storms onto the stage a rage. The source of her fury is her boyfriend, who she has just found out has a six-year-old son in Canada. There is a ghost of a memory—a shock—on her father’s face. Yet, as he points out, if a man is willing to stick by through the thick or thin of life, he is a keeper. This is the launching point of the story. Together with Angelina the audience gets to hear about her father’s past.
The story of an orphaned boy who became a soldier and fell in love could be cliché, but it works because of Gary Calandro’s performance. He brings realness to this character that makes this story believable. In essence, this play is almost a monologue from the father. He describes his life experiences that have led up to this moment that he has now with his daughter. Importantly he teaches her how duty can transform into love. Calandro has excellent rhythm when it comes to delivering his lines. None of it felt forced and I was really moved by his performance.
Melissa Parke had only a small speaking part by comparison, yet it was vital to the play. With so few lines she really had to work hard to bring her character to life. The daughter, Angelina, was in her mind-twenties, but the way Parke played her made the young woman feel more like an 18 or 19 years old. Her costuming lacked maturity as well, further cementing the teenager vibe. Some of Parke’s delivery felt overacted. For example, when she discovered her father was not her birth father, her shock did not feel believable. However, her character is complex and not only did she discover the man she loves has a child by another woman, but she learns that her father isn’t her biological father: two huge life-changing events that can be a challenge for any actor or actress to play.
The technical aspects of this play were simple, but in some places jarring. During the flashback sequences, the voices that Calandro’s character remembered really exploded through the speakers. These memories could have been transitioned much more smoothly with some simple sound editing, and still achieve the desired affect.
As a whole, though, this play was touching. The themes of love, duty, and doing what is right run strongly within this story, making a feel good tale that sticks with you. It is rare to find a play that focuses on a father-daughter relationship that gets it right, but playwright Yaw Asiyama captured it in a beautifully simple way.
Author: Yaw Asiyama
Director: Yaw Asiyama and Rachel Calandro
Producer: Yaw House Productions
Booking Until: August 1st
Box Office: 020 8340 3488
Booking Link: http://www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com/booking