ED2015 Columns ED2015 Theatre

Amee Smith: Voyage around a father

By | Published on Sunday 23 August 2015

Acts Of Redemption

In ‘Acts Of Redemption’, a series of funny, bittersweet and moving monologues, Amee Smith plays Diane, a character who has spent most of her life being her father’s carer. Exploring that character has made Smith consider her own father, and other fathers she has known, and the different ways the parent-child relationship can work out.

I will only ever experience the father/daughter relationship from one side and I’m glad I’ve got my dad, he’s great. Growing up he never taught me that there are things girls can’t do that boys can. He was happy to let me dress up as a fairy princess and hammer some nails into wood I’d sawn up at the same time. He’s always been there for me and I’ll admit I have taken him and his support and guidance for granted. Perhaps I’m lucky that both my parents are people I would choose to spend time with, even if we weren’t related.

Earlier this year, my ex-husband’s father passed away. Their relationship had never been a particularly close one… they weren’t estranged but they weren’t in regular contact and the time I spent with him was limited. His passing still touched me. They knew the roles of parent and child: one expected to lead and the other to follow, and they would… to some extent. But a father can only lead a son to so many bars and strip clubs when the son would rather be in a theatre.

In ‘Acts Of Redemption’, my character Diane has spent most of her life being her father’s carer. It is part of her routine and the everyday, to have a reliant adult needing her. I don’t have that, nor do I have the experience of being a parent, but I can compare and contrast the father figures I have known to understand more of Diane’s absolute love and utter frustration.

My dad has coped with his daughter throwing spanners in the works regularly, letting her make her own choices and accommodating them with guidance. He found ways to feed his determined newly vegetarian seven year old, whilst still managing the home budget with a non-veggie family.

He explained how to cope with people’s comments about my Mum living on the other side of the county and how that wasn’t the same as divorce (I’m one of those weird kids who grew up with two parents who were, and still are, in a relationship with each other – Mum just worked away for a couple of years and we’d visit at weekends).

He even stopped the car to let me rescue a fish in the road. Obviously it was a leaf, but he stopped anyway because I’d have been sad if we hadn’t and we’d left a fish to die…in the road…in Lincolnshire…not known for its many lakes… and on the opposite side of that county to where the sea is… but he didn’t make me feel daft for wanting to help.

It would be strange for me to reverse these roles, but that is what my character Diane has done. And as well as understanding her devotion to the father she loves, I can see elements of my ex’s frustrations in her: being in places you have to be when you’d rather be elsewhere but you can’t leave because… family…

Diane has made the role of parent such a part of her life that she needs to learn to be the daughter. Listening to the other characters that she shares a stage with talk of their father/child relationships, I can’t help but enjoy her discoveries and realisations. We will never know what happens to the characters after the play ends, but I’ve liked getting to know Diane and I hope she’s happy.

‘Acts Of Redemption’ was performed at Underbelly Cowgate at Edinburgh Festival 2015.