Although dysfunctions are dealt with only glancingly, it's hard not to suspect that they're one of the story's main roots, from Redgrave's steadily drinking grandmother, who puts a four-year-old Michael on trains as a parcel ("he loved it"), shipping him off to relatives because she's too busy to deal with him, to Lynn herself, pulling out what looks like a chocolate bar for a nibble whenever childhood scenes get stressful, which can't help but remind us that she's an ex-Weight Watchers spokeswoman.
Anyone intrigued by the House of Redgrave will find this interesting fodder. The daughter grieves her father while the actress assumes his billing. But after all, an actor's emotional reservoir is her stock and trade. Albert Finney has noted that when he heard the news of his father's death, he was playing Lear. The first two nights of mourning were given to pure grief, but by the third, he'd started to incorporate the emotion into his role. Lynn Redgrave is attempting something similar. And while she's honest and witty and charming and brave, she has yet to make that final leap across the void to embrace and forgive. Maybe Shakespeare for My Father helps work that catharsis for her. It certainly serves as a diverting and thoughtful evening for us.
Shakespeare for My Father will run through July 3 at the Alley Theatre, 615 Travis, 228-8421.