Is Florian Zeller the new Yasmina Reza?
Certainly, he’s the most successful French playwright to hit English shores since Reza, whose 1990s hits – Life x 3, The Unexpected Man and, of course, the long-running (eight years in the West End), starry cast-rotating Art – were followed more recently by 2006’s God of Carnage in the West End, on Broadway and on screen.
Now, we have the 20-years-younger Zeller on the ascendant with three big shows (and, for at least two days, running simultaneously) in London: The Father in the West End, The Mother at the Tricycle and The Truth at the Menier Chocolate Factory. (And might the latter two follow The Father into the West End, where it’s returning for a second season?)
There are other commonalities beyond being French and scoring triple hits: both Reza and Zeller have a bagful of Moliere prizes (France’s Olivier equivalent) and both have relied heavily on translator Christopher Hampton to make their French sophistication suitable for English palates.
There are also key differences. While Zeller describes both The Father and The Mother as farces, there’s no Reza like humour – it’s more the Chekhovian definition of ‘comedy’ – and he works hard to unsettle audiences with disjointed timelines, repetitions and alternative narratives.
FYI, in France, The Mother (La Mere) and The Father (La Pere) were first seen in 2010 and 2012, with The Truth (La Verite) sandwiched between them in 2011. Below is an overview of their English-language versions and where you can see them.
Also scroll down for tweets from my recent viewing of The Mother, click here for my blog after first seeing The Father last year, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @TerriPaddock for my first reactions when The Truth opens next month.