You Look Like Your Father

29 August 2019 | 12:30 pm | Cameron Colwell

"[A] satisfying and enjoyable drama, particularly for those who don’t mind a touch of sentimentality."

You Look Like Your Father has an awkward, uneven start, but once it gets going, this production's tender realism strikes true. Cleverly manipulating a set to stand as the same house several years apart, the play explores the lasting impact of parental mistreatment: Ted (Shane Grubba) and Violet (Kerry du Plessis) have just brought their first child Zac home, and some decades later, Zac's (Alexander Lloyd) partner is newly pregnant. The play is relentlessly earnest in its look at Australian fatherhood, sometimes to the point of triteness, but by the end of the play, it delivers the emotional heft its opening scenes promise. Lloyd in particular gives a memorable and complex performance of Zac. Grubba's portrayal of Ted is nuanced, sinister, and, at times, genuinely frightening.

It is the overstuffed and sometimes circular script which keeps this play from being great. In the early scenes particularly, audience members don’t have to work too hard as characters drop motivations and backstories almost without provocation. Conflicts break out at the drop of a hat, and escalate from nothing to shouting in moments. Most discussion about being a ‘real man’ has an advertisement copy quality about it, with characters inorganically dropping lines that feel hackneyed. However, the writing is not without its considerable merit; each of the characters has a true-to-life quality. Something shifts from the first act to the second, and there’s a great sense of humour, as well as a skilful show of the complicated dynamics between each of the characters. A stately piano ties the two narratives together in a way that’s moving in its sincerity. While it’s not without its flaws, You Look Like Your Father is a satisfying and enjoyable drama, particularly for those who don’t mind a touch of sentimentality.