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Daddy Issues: A Review Of Repertory's 'Father’s Day'

Running for four weekends until the 14th of April is Repertory’s 2nd offering for this 2019 season, the family comedy Father’s Day. An inter-generational, parlor-room farce that’s set in a suburban English home, it runs very much like the pilot for a sit-com about a divorced Home Alone dad; and that’s hardly surprising given that it’s written by Eric Chappell, renowned for his British TV comedies from the late 1970s to the 1990s. And if there’s one über-compelling reason to catch this play, it would be Miguel Faustmann brilliantly playing Henry Willows, the curmudgeon at the center of the storyline.

 

 

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Directed by Baby Barredo, the four-man cast consists of Henry (Faustmann), his son Matthew (Andres Borromeo), Matthew’s girlfriend Christine (Rachel and Becca Coates alternate), a body-piercing Goth/punk, and Henry’s ex-wife Sue (Liesl Batucan). And the setting is Henry’s home, where he’s solitary Lord of the Manor, disturbed one wintry night by the arrival of his estranged son with girlfriend in tow; which eventually heralds the arrival of his ex, who has been driving around in search of her son.

 

 

Pregnant with possibilities (as is a particular person in the play), this set-up is then mined for a succession of zingy one-liners, witty and cutting repartee, and a plot that touches on regrets, missed opportunities, family, and wistfulness. It’s old school sit-com comedy brought to the stage (the stage play is loosely based on Chappell’s TV series Home to Roost); and it’s an enjoyable romp that does strain credulity at times—like how easy is it to just up and leave your home/domicile, or how ‘blind’ can love be; but shows it has its’ heart in the right place amidst all the upheavals, and catty or misanthropic behavior.

 

 

 

The cast is an earnest, enthusiastic quartet; and I especially loved how Coates went all out in giving us the Goth/punk, body-piercer Christine. But without a doubt, the night belongs to Miguel Faustmann and his Henry Willows. Henry is the fulcrum of the play’s movement, and Faustmann is more than up to the challenge; giving us bitter, sardonic, cutting, sarcastic, naughty, and foolish in equal measures, and when needed. 

 

 

If I have to criticize the play (and I know I’m being fastidious), I have this pet peeve about slipping in and out of the accents you’re creating. The comedy is set in England, and everyone establishes their character as such, but every so often, some let their accents go American, or suddenly drawl in a trans-continental manner. 

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And I would have wanted more physical comedy. By that I don’t mean slapstick or throwing oneself around the stage. I loved it when Faustmann showed how this could be achieved to heighten the comedy when he gags on the drink in the decanter that he tampered with himself, but then forgot. It was priceless moments such as this that showed the mark of the veteran, and how comedy should go beyond the spouting of lines, or the give and take of repartee. And the situational opportunities for achieving this are numerous. 

If only for Faustmann ‘owning’ this Henry Willows, ‘bending but never breaking’, Father’s Day is already an enjoyable night at the theater. He’s the obstinate, weird Uncle, or pedantic, OC Father we have in our lives; and it’s hilarious recognizing that as we watch him in this play.

 

 

Photos from @repertoryphilippines and by Philip Cu-Unjieng