“I’m telling you. I don’t understand what’s happening to me.”
Nicolas is going through a difficult phase after his parents’ divorce. He’s listless, skipping school, lying and thinks that moving in with his father and his new family may help. A fresh start. When he doesn’t settle there either, he decides that going back to his mother’s may be the answer. When change feels like the only way to survive, what will he do when the options begin to run out?
The Son is the third in the series written by Florian Zeller following on from The Mother and The Father and tells the intimate story of a troubled teenager struggling with mental health and how his recently divorced parents deal with his issues. Nicolas struggles with the changes to his family life and possible unknown outside influences and becomes depressive, destructive and at times violent. His father tries to nurse and protect his new family struggles to balance this life around Nicolas’s influence while his mum appears at a loss of how to help.
The piece explores well-meaning but troubled relationships, showing various people in Nicolas’s life trying to help but failing to really listen, connect or understand his mental health issues. Often they don’t know how to deal with his emotions of their own, often hearing what they wish to instead of truly listening. The relationship between the father and son’s balance of masculinity is interesting to see play out as the father struggles to connect with his sons more emotional, sensitive side, often resulting in outbursts of anger. The tension builds throughout and it often feels as though the emotions are barely held in, bubbling beneath the surface at all times.
The whole cast performs powerfully throughout and there are surprising moments of true humour to balance the more extreme or sensitive parts to this play. It can be a little slow at times but it avoids many of the cliches often seen when tackling mental health in theatre which results in a show that is really memorable and impactful.
The Son is on at the Duke of York’s Theatre until the 2nd of November 2019, tickets start from £17.75 and can be bought through the London Boxoffice website.
Tickets were complimentary in exchange for review