Bach & Sons
24 August 2021
The Bridge Theatre
4.0 out of 5.0 stars
When I heard there was a new play at the Bridge Theatre based on the life of Johann Sebastian Bach, I just had to see it for myself. While there are some liberties taken here and there of course, the basic plot follows Bach’s life quite closely as it is documented.
A gifted composer and musician, Bach had very rigid standards and was devoted to his Christian faith. His sons also grew up to be musicians, though not as gifted as their father, which of course caused a plethora of tensions and family drama.
Nina Raine wrote an intense, emotional play that highlights the struggles of families and the human need for recognition. Wilhelm and Carl, two of Bach’s sons, are characterised very well and their individual struggles are put in juxtaposition to each other. One receiving too much attention, the other too little, both feeling smothered by the overwhelming presence of their father. They choose very different paths in life that are beautifully illustrated.
While most of the play is very engaging and funny despite some very dark subject matters being discussed, I do have to mention that it is chock full of fat-shaming jokes strewn throughout. The biggest saving grace here is the intense presence of Pravessh Rana as the eccentric Frederick the Great, single handedly elevating the entire play to new heights. Despite some issues around the edges, I enjoyed this emotionally heavy play very much and can definitely recommend it to those who enjoy classical music, family dramas, and well told stories with precise characters.