Father-and-son story strikes a chord

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The bond between father and son will be shared both on stage and in the cast as the comic play Dear Lupin opens tonight in Wanaka.

Blaise Barham, of Queenstown, and his father, John Barham, of Cromwell, are working together for the first time in the production.

The play is based on letters Roger Mortimer, a former army captain and racing correspondent, wrote to his son, Charlie.

When Barham “stumbled on” the two-person father-and-son play it struck him as having “a lot of similarities with our own lives”.

“Dad has done quite a bit of writing, and was in the army as well – he was a major in the intelligence corps, so there were some similarities there.”

Roger Mortimer gave his son the nickname Lupin after the son in a nineteenth-century comic novel called The Diary of a Nobody

The play tells the story of the relationship between father and son over 25 years of letters.

“He is a bit of a wayward son, so a lot of the letters are trying to encourage him to stay on track.”

Barham said his father had a long history of performance.

“Dad’s been doing it for most of his life. He worked out he had done over 70 stage productions in the UK, Germany, Hong Kong and New Zealand.”

Barham is also no stranger to the stage, having performed for about 20 years, and is the president of Queenstown’s Remarkable Theatre.

Directed by John Goudge, of Auckland –”he has been amazing” – the play was “very funny” but also “quite nostalgic in a way, quite poignant”.

The play showed the love between father and son but it was “very stiff upper lip, very British”.

Being able to rehearse with his father had been “quite interesting”.

Barham was wondering “how we would get on”, or whether his father would be “a bit bossy”.

However, it had been a very enjoyable experience.

“It has been really nice spending quite a lot of time together. It has just given us that opportunity to connect.”

Despite his father having turned 85, it was “amazing to see his performance; he’s still very active”, Barham said.

Dear Lupin, written by Roger and Charlie Mortimer and adapted for stage by Michael Simkins, opens tonight at Bar Number 8 (previously Gin and Raspberry) in Ardmore St, Wanaka. Additional performances will take place in Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Queenstown, Bannockburn and Alexandra.