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Q&A: The Father’s Kenneth Cranham

Reporter: Matthew Amer, first published Wed 24 Feb 2016 12:06

Cards on the table; The Father’s star Kenneth Cranham pretty much made us cry when Official London Theatre met him at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards. He was collecting the prize for Best Actor, for his performance in Florian Zeller’s universally lauded play, and his reminiscence about his own father’s aging was as touching an anecdote as you’re likely to hear.

We were concerned, then, how emotional we might get when Cranham responded to our searching Q&A and whether we should just right off the rest of February. While his father makes an appearance again, alongside Laurence Olivier and red wine gravy, this time around he’s far more succinct and our tear ducts have remained unused.

The same may not be the case when we pop in to see Cranham, new co-star Amanda Drew and the rest of The Father’s cast at the Duke of York’s Theatre. The tale of 80-year-old Andre, who may or may not have been a tap dancer or an engineer, and who may or may not live with his daughter, plays at its third London home until the end of March.

What can you expect? We discovered that and more:


What made you want to appear in The Father?

It’s a great play; lean, funny and very moving.

How would you describe your character?  

Like myself, refusing to age gracefully.

How did you feel to be recognised with the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards?

I just wish my father was still alive.

What has surprised you most during the journey of performing the show?

The response from the audiences we’ve had.

What is your favourite moment in the show?

The first big laugh that we get. It means we’re on our way.

Why do you think the show has been so well received?

It touches so many lives.

What is the finest performance you have seen?

Colin Blakely as Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

If you could create a fantasy production to star in, who would you cast, who would direct and what would it be?

The Father is a fantasy that’s become real.

What do you do when you’re not performing or rehearsing? 

Try and keep up with London; art galleries and libraries.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Having a bike in Herongate Essex, and my grandparents.

Who or what has inspired you?

Laurence Olivier’s Shakespeare films made me want to act.

Do you have any regrets?

The many people who I have loved who are now memories.

Do you have any theatrical superstitions?

Each production collects a set of superstitions.

Have you made any sacrifices for the sake of your career?

Not that I’m aware of.

What will always, without fail, bring a smile to your face?

Remembering myself, Susie Littler and Polly Adams at the National Theatre.

What would you choose as a last meal?

Something with crisp golden roast potatoes and red wine gravy.

Do you have any advice for young actors?

Try to find work by good writers.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?

Something to do with design.


The Father runs at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 26 March. You can book tickets through us here.

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