Qui a tué mon père (Who killed my father)

Qui a tue mon pere Who killed my father Adelaide Festival 2024Adelaide Festival. Schaubuhne Berlin & Theatre de las Ville Paris. Dunstan Playhouse. 9 Mar 2024


Despite warnings about homophobia and alcoholism, one is quite unprepared for the immense potency of this French one-hander by Édouard Louis.

The work opens passively, the performer alone at a table working on a laptop.

Tres ordinaire.

There’s a sofa OP on stage and a plastic garden chair; a standing mic, stick-like at centre stage; and a full screen video backdrop with the image of a foggy French road.  One of those scary pollutant fogs where other cars appear like ghosts.

Louis speaks softly in French.  White surtitles are just legible high against the video image. Grey roads, white lines, forward movement; time and distance. You cannot go back.


The narrative, however, is from a memoir which trips around chronology, piecing together a tale of family dysfunction, domestic violence, acute homophobia, cruelty and guilt, and the haplessness of a loving mother.


From the start, we understand that mon père is gravely ill and, as his past is revealed, the question of blame rises and who is to deserve what fate or injustice in life? This is a many-layered dilemma and one of the philosophic cores of the work.

Indeed, this one man’s narrative arrays everyman quandaries.


Louis’s stage presence is beautiful as is the pace of the work under the direction of the distinguished Thomas Ostermeier.

The black and white videos of Sébastien Dupouey and Marie Sanchez are a thematic marriage of exquisite atmosphere and aesthetic, as is the subtlety of soundscape from Sylvain Jacques. 

It has explosive revelations, bursts of loud American pop music, and effusive drag cameos which explore not only the son’s talents but his father’s hostility towards him. Even for a factory worker who likes to dance, a “faggot” son in rural France is a cause for shame. The father has demonstrated only one tender gesture in the boy’s life. While he would never fulfil his son’s craving for recognition and while his utter reprehensibility caused his son’s flight, there is that hefty anchor called love. There are moments the audience weeps for it.


Louis’s tale reaches deep into our souls.


And, then, the denouement!

Why is that awful father dying aged only in his 50s?

It is not the factory accident alone. Thereon arrives the coup de théâtre. An eruption of agit prop which pins back the ears and breaks the heart.

And, come the curtain, audience members en masse leap to their feet in thunderous acclaim.

This is what festivals are all about.


Samela Harris


When: 9 to 10 Mar

Where: Dunstan Playhouse

Bookings: adelaidefestival.com.au