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John Mortimer - barrister, playwright, novelist and raconteur - is best known for his Rumpole of the Bailey stories. He is also the author of numerous film scripts including Cider With Rosie and Zeffirelli’s Tea With Mussolini.
A Voyage Round My Father is written with Mortimer’s characteristic flair, using amusing anecdotes, hilarious flash-backs and sensitive memoirs. It is an autobiographical journey charting his frequently turbulent relationship with his brilliant, blind barrister Father.
“He sent words out into the darkness, like soldiers sent off to battle, and was never short of re-enforcements. In the law courts he gave his public performance. At home, he returned to his ritual of the potting shed, the crossword puzzle and the evening earwig hunt.” (Son, Act 1)
Struck down with blindness in adulthood, John’s Father does not allow anyone to make reference to his handicap, using his devoted wife and his adolescent son as his “eyes”. Frustrated by his lack of sight, the Father’s eccentric behaviour with family, guests and colleagues is frequently rude and inhospitable, much to John’s embarrassment. Whilst recollections of these excruciating incidents provide rich theatrical entertainment, A Voyage Round My Father also explores a more poignant theme. John yearns for his Father’s love and respect, but unsuccessful youthful flirtations and friendships, forays into films and inept attempts to follow his Father’s footsteps into the Law courts seem only to attract derision and scorn.
A Voyage Round My Father is a highly entertaining and perfect slice of British upper/middle class life in the last century, captivating audiences with its chronicle of a larger-than-life Father and a son struggling to emerge from his shadow. Next Stage’s in-the-round production has a stellar cast with Richard Matthews as John Mortimer, Dave Dunn as his Father and Kay Francksen as his Mother.