A Voyage of self discovery

PUBLISHED: 12:17 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 17:16 16 August 2010

VOYAGE: Claire Lewis-McClean, Maurice Tripp and Carol Gray.

VOYAGE: Claire Lewis-McClean, Maurice Tripp and Carol Gray.

JOHN Mortimer s autobiographical play A Voyage Round My Father was brought to the stage in a memorable production by Crayford s Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre.

JOHN Mortimer's autobiographical play A Voyage Round My Father was brought to the stage in a memorable production by Crayford's Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre.

It presents many scenes from the author's life, from his childhood in the 1930s to his first tentative steps as a barrister in the late 1950s.

And all the while overshadowed by the dominating figure of his father, blinded when Mortimer was a child, but still a hugely charismatic presence in his life.

There is nothing remotely challenging about the subject matter, but that's not the point.

It describes a quintessentially cosy England between the two World Wars, and literally teems with a cornucopia of larger-than-life characters.

For example, there's the dotty old headmaster, played with scene-stealing relish by Graeme Horner; the village lesbians Miss Cox and Miss Baker (a very natural performance by Ellie Martin and Aysev Ismail) or the harassed film director (David Adams in fine form) trying to wring a vaguely believable performance from two ATS workers.

But the play stands or falls on the believability of its central father/son pairing. And in this aspect of the casting, director Lesley Robins had gone for absolute authenticity.

For Mortimer's unnamed Father and Son were played by real-life father and son Maurice and Martin Tripp.

Maurice Tripp is a very fine actor, and he was perfect as the elderly, opinionated father. His son Martin has clearly inherited his acting genes too, and he brought charm, humour and an engaging lightness of touch to a character often relegated to passive observer. Their scenes together were

a delight.

Especially powerful was the ending, as the son reveals just how much his father meant to him, moments before the crippled old man drops his head and dies peacefully in his wheelchair.

The son as a young boy was played with gusto by a talented William Webster.

As his friend Reigate, Oliver Baldwin was equally good. And Matthew Webb as an effete music tutor made an excellent debut at the theatre.

Lesley Robins' staging was simple and straightforward, with the play's many short scenes blending smoothly to form a very satisfying whole.

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