Time of My Life
|Date||25th May 2023|
|Society||New Kinver Players|
|Venue||Edward Marsh Centre - Kinver|
|Type of Production||Play|
|Stage Manager||Roger Seabury|
|Sound||Martin Ward and Phil Drinkwater|
|Written By||Alan Ayckbourn|
Author: Dave Brown
New Kinver Players (NKP) presented a well-honed production of Alan Ayckbourn's Time of My Life tonight with some tremendously impressive acting. There was some nice attention to detail and little nods which showed the director and actors had analysed the script well. The cast also showed some impressive instinct with excellent scenes of interaction.
This play is entirely set in a restaurant. This restaurant is a favourite of a family who have chosen to gather here to celebrate Laura's Birthday. All seems quite "normal" as we get to know the characters with their personality, habits, quirks and the way they communicate with each other. There was some lovely moments into the complexity of life with the background, thoughts and feelings of the characters brought to the audience’s attention with the brilliant writing and acting.
However, this play gets you thinking deeper with a timeline which is not continuous. The destination of the restaurant remained the focal point, but the events which take place at the restaurant flip back and forth. Time flipping gives the audience a taste of the past which leads up to a present moment and glimpses of future outcomes. This made the play even more compelling when you start to question the motives and behaviour and witness concepts which gets you thinking, like "time is a healer". You almost wish yourself to have the foresight whilst dealing with a traumatic event. Also, we often don’t know if we are making the right decisions. Do we take the risk? Are we scared of the heartache or the unknown of making a tough decision?
One of the main themes which I found interesting, is living in the present. This is often missed or maybe people are simply not aware of having the time of their life when concerned about the past or worried about the future. I also reflected after the performance on how a photograph was never taken to mark Laura’s Birthday, but the tableaux’s used to mark time were incredibly effective. The lights really helped create these snapshots; some were held for lengthy periods and these were mesmerising.
I also found the level of enjoyment the characters had alongside their individual experiences of the restaurant interesting. This play was written in 1992 before Facebook or Instagram, therefore no heavy reliance on scrolling through life of pictures and videos, also in 1992 there were no online restaurant reviews. I found this amazingly thought provoking. We naturally draw on past experiences to attempt to fulfil the same experience, the same taste or the same feeling. When the restaurant was going downhill with the food and service, it was interesting how the environment was changing and how this affected a person’s outlook, experience or mood. I was also intrigued why the same restaurant was continually used by the family members. Was it simply a comfort zone? Were they trying to recreate something? The waiters certainly helped change the mood over time with their poor service towards the end of the play and at the time I would have liked to have seen more physical changes to the restaurant set to mark this passage. However, there were some nice touches, such as flowers for Valentines Day and some Christmas Hats which were on the smaller tables. In retrospect, it would have been difficult in acheiving to "age" the whole set but it was great that NKP showed they did consider these little touches, the attention to detail being an important part of the story telling.
The character of Laura was played by Di McCann who portrayed a strong, hypocritical matriarch who was used to getting her own way. This was done in an extremely convincing way with some excellent and powerful moments acted by Di who had such presence and focus, with the correct pinch of disdain.
Laura's husband, Gerry, played by Richard Delahaye was also quite brilliant. Richard brought out many qualities of a person who puts business first and continues to treat his family as an achievement which he continues to provide for out of duty. Laura is shocked to hear the business may be suffering but Gerry instantly regrets mentioning it to her.
The interaction between Di McCann and Richard Delahaye was marvellous. There were some cracking scenes, especially when Gerry was trying to figure out who Laura had spent 15 minutes with in the back of a station wagon in the 1970’s.
The two sons Glyn (Pete Chambers) and Adam (Oliver Smith) were very interesting characters. Glyn was trying very hard to please his parents and, in some ways, took after his father with a sense of detachment and duty but he remained very concerned to what his mother may think. This came across beautifully by Pete Chambers.
Adam, ends up confused about what he wants out of life despite his parent’s efforts to steer him. Oliver Smith was outstanding and the scenes with his girlfriend Maureen, the hairdresser were by far my favourite scenes. Maureen (Georgina Johnston) was the star of the show for me, there was a real journey with her trying to impress and please Adam and his family whilst staying true to herself.
Glyn's long suffering wife Stephanie was also a great character and she was played by a newcomer to NKP, Laura Cooney. Laura portrayed a sympathetic, strong and complex character and did a fantastic job. The wonderful scene when Stephanie took control of her life again and asked for a divorce was acted so well. Glyn of course wanted to ensure his mother was to know it wasn’t himself that instigated the divorce, despite leaving Stephanie for another woman.
Chris Lees and Lee Knight played 5 waiters between them who worked at the restaurant. As the standard of employees and service deteriorates, the play slowly comes to its climax. Lee Knight’s characters start enthusiastic and flighty and then towards the end, were static and border line rude. Both Chris Lees and Lee knight held some nice moments of comedy and they seemed to enjoy these characters very much.
The lights and sound was designed well and complimented the play. The backstage crew completed seamless support and the director, Mike Galikowski’s interpretation succeeded in providing a suitably thought-provoking evening which left lots to reflect. Congratulations to everyone involved.
The next play by New Kinver Players is Agatha Christie’s “A Murder is Announced” which is showing November 22nd- 25th 2023. This play will mark their 40th anniversary. For more information click on www.newkinverplayers.org.uk
Thank you to the Front of House who always provide such a lovely warm welcome and thank you for the kind invitation, inspiration and entertainment over the years.
I wish you all the best for the future.