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André was once a tap dancer. He lives with his daughter Anne and her husband Antoine. Or was he an engineer whose daughter Anne lives in London with her new lover, Pierre? Either way, he’s still wearing his pyjamas and he can’t find his watch. He is starting to wonder if he’s losing his mind.

“The Father is about the life-long processes of how families love each other”, says Damien Ryan who makes his STC directorial debut. “Most of our lives are spent within the inclusivity of the family unit, yet most of us die in the hands of strangers.”

Florian Zeller wrote The Father only a few short years ago. It announced him as one of the hottest young literary talents in the world. Yet, according to Ryan, the beauty of the play belies this youthfulness. “There’s a huge amount of restraint and wisdom in Zeller’s work. It’s highly sophisticated – almost obsessively so – in the way he’s put it together. Even when he was in the room for the very first run of the play, I think they changed about one sentence. He’s certainly a clever kid.”

The return of theatrical royalty, John Bell to the STC stage makes The Father a must see. “What a career and what an extraordinary actor he is”, says Ryan. “He is such an exquisite and technical actor. It’s a big role, he’s continually on stage, there is a lot of dialogue, there is an absurdist quality to the play, so there is a lot of repetition. It’s quite a task. It’s remarkable how switched on John is as an actor that he can handle that kind of material.”

Until October 21. Sydney Theatre Company, The Wharf 1, Pier 4-5, Hickson Road Walsh Bay. $79-$101. Tickets & Info: www.sydneytheatre.com.au or Ph: 02 9250 1777

By Greg Webster.