Francesca Bartellini on Father: 'A multiple layer of storytelling gives to this play a strong metaphorical meaning'
- Gareth K Vile
- 23 April 2019
The personal echoes the political in Bartellini's intense monologue
Having previewed at the Tron in advance of a run at the Fringe, Francesca Bartellini's intense monologue Father does not lack ambition. Addressing the conflict between humanity and the environment, with the abuse of a daughter becoming a vicious symbol for the male abuse of the planet, this one woman show never flinches from its critique of religion and toxic masculinity; nor the narratives of ecological disaster that are promulgated by the media in an almost ritualistic attempt to appear to be acknowledging the threat, yet without leading to any action for change.
'This play is based on a friend of mine's real experience and it's an intimate work with mythical scope,' Bartellini explains, 'where the personal experiences between child and parent are reflected in our wider relationship with Mother Nature and the evolution of our climate.' Bartelllini plays all three characters in this triangle of anguish, and the male character 'here is also a well-known meteorologist who wants to save the Earth: he believes Man is the cause of the disaster, therefore Man should be the solution. He is lost in his own delusion because he was the first to commit a crime having abused his own daughter. So a multiple layer of storytelling gives to this play a strong metaphorical meaning.'
Despite the contemporary relevance of the production's twin themes, Bartellini reaches towards a symbolic meaning that lends a mythological and almost classical resonance. 'These three characters are actually coming from the same place. They are like Pirandello's characters in a way. They are three but one. There is something like a "higher dimension" where they belong. They are coming from there and they become humans just to tell us the story of this abuse.'
It's clear that Bartelleni believes not only in the importance of theatre to send a serious message, but in the specific narrative of violence and ecological destruction that drives the production. Her monologue leaps between the three voices like a single mind slowly unspooling a psychodrama that ends in death and disgrace, with an explicit connection made between Christian values, paternal arrogance and the savage masculinity that has despoiled the environment.
'I believe theatre to be the only place where, in the dark, you are confronted with another human being's feelings that are experienced in that precise moment,' she concludes. 'No technology. This is so vital for getting in touch with our deeper emotions. We are at a crucial point in our civilisation. Many people do not realise how dangerous the situation we are living in is. I hope audiences will awake. People will start questioning themselves. Not only marching in the streets to ask for a better future but also really questioning their lives and their own behaviour.'
Edinburgh Fringe dates to be announced.