Pros: The great acting and the music are some of the highlights.
Cons: The dialogues can be monotonous and the show is too long.
Having not read the actual summary in full before the attending Time of my Life, I wasn’t sure what was ahead of me. I went in without much expectation and came out pleasantly surprised. This show won’t be to everyone’s taste, due to its setting and the fact it’s almost entirely dialogue, but it does manage to get laughs and smiles throughout, and overall it makes for quite an enjoyable night out.
Alan Acykbourn’s Time of my Life is set in a family restaurant in 80s Northern England and shows the present, past, and future events happening to the Stratton family. The plot shows the ups and downs of the family including their engagements, divorces and even death. Most of these events are narrated by the characters while they sit eating; it makes for an interesting set up initially, but after a while it becomes repetitive, which makes the play seem longer than it actually is. However, the format does allow the characters on stage to shine, which they all do.
The characters are the Stratton family, restaurant owner Calvinu, and his four waiters. The mother, Laura, is a portrayal of a stereotypical rich woman and Hilary Derrett plays her role amazingly well, bringing a more realistic side to her character. The sons, Glyn (Pearce Sampson) and Adam (Elliot Berry), are cast perfectly and have good chemistry with their on-stage partners. Maureen (Lauren Scott-Berry) is Adam’s partner, and the couple truly give some comic relief to the production, producing quite a few laughs. On the topic of comic relief, Joey Bartram plays multiple characters throughout and shows great skill as he brings to life a variety of very different characters; he proves to be quite the audience favourite. Charlie McClimens’ Stephanie was consistent throughout, along with her on-and-off husband Glyn. The father of the family is equally wonderful, proving the whole cast to be a strong one. Considering how the whole play is told through the characters’ conversations, it’s very important for the actors to be good, and they certainly rise to the task.
With the entire show being set in a restaurant, the backdrop is not overly extravagant, but it does manage to capture the feel of a typical family restaurant. The props are all good, and the cast had a couple of real meals – I could even smell the food. Another positive is the smoothness of the transitions between scenes. The music is a perfect addition, with classics like White Christmas sprinkled in.
The downsides of this production would have to be the length and the plot holes you are left with at the end. The conversations, while entertaining at times, are slightly repetitive, particularly in the second part of the first act. Also, the changeover between the time periods always somehow managed to make me feel like I was missing out on some things, but fortunately, it didn’t look messy or confusing in the end.
Overall, Time of my Life is an enjoyable piece that plays on some outdated stereotypes of a family, and contains consistently strong performances. It has its highs and lows, which make it a mixture of things that will appeal to a variety of audiences. The production certainly sends out its intended message of not being able to recognise the true happiness we have in the present clearly.
Writer: Alan Ayckbourn
Director: David Lucas
Producer: Rare Insight Productions
Box Office: 0333 666 3366
Booking Link: http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/portfolio/time-of-my-life/
Booking Until: 30 April 2016