The relationship between child and father is creatively a well-trodden path, so kudos to Babakas for not only finding original angles to explore in their fact-meets-fabrication production Our Fathers, but also making it astonishingly affecting.
Sofia Paschou, Bert Roman and Mike Tweddle, playing versions of themselves, reflect on their bond with their respective fathers in response to potential impending fatherhood for Mike. As Mike is gay and the opportunity comes in the form of a woman he has never met, his boyfriend Bert is understandably skeptical. Sofia is more supportive, mainly because she is scoping out the audience for potential dates (apparently not having a car is a deal-breaker).
Bert isn’t particularly chatty, preferring to express himself through movement, often employing an energetic, joyful jumping choreography sequences - the significance of which becomes movingly apparent at the end. Bert is virtually estranged from his father who is unwilling to accept his sexuality; the discord between them is a constant presence in the sound of unanswered Skype dialing tones.
Sofia’s father - and the main man in her life considering how often he calls her during dates - is a larger than life Sinatra-obsessed Greek, aptly personified by a 15 foot-high projected shadow. When a family tragedy reduces this shadow down to smaller than human-sized, Sofia is able perhaps for the first time to play the adult.
Mike’s last memory of his father is of saying his last goodbyes in hospital, aged ten or so and only being able to think of an emotional scene from Neighbours. He tries to reconnect with his father via postcards and old VHS tapes of his father in Africa, yet tangibly craves a physical presence to give him advice as he faces becoming a father himself. The three actors based these stories closely on their own experiences which, rather than making them sentimental or indulgent, adds a clarity and wicked humour to the piece, as well as a genuine fondness.
After the show, I talked to a fully-grown man in tears, thinking of his daughter on her first day of nursery across the other side of the country. Then I called my dad.