Pros: Timeless has a charming central performance, tight direction, and a witty and sensitive script.
Cons: The play is quite short, and certain aspects of the character’s life felt under-explored.
From childhood to old age, we make sense of our world and the people in it through experiences. The important experiences are stored and saved in our mind as memories, and inform everything we do, think, and feel. Memory, in effect, defines who we are. What happens when we lose it? Do we lose ourselves, too? Or do we become someone else entirely?
These are the questions at the heart of Timeless. The play explores one man’s struggle to maintain his own identity and relationships with his family, after losing the ability to form new memories, as a result of anterograde amnesia. Martin is effectively a man ‘out of time’. He believes he is living in 2008 while his family grows old without him, a sad reality that is handled with care and humour and invites plenty of questions about what makes us human – not least from Martin himself.
Timeless is a success for several reasons. John Rayment’s performance of Martin is simply superb. John manages to convey a sweet but troubled man, frustrated by his failure to remember things and his suspicions that those closest to him may be taking advantage or hiding information. These frustrations are particularly painful for Martin, given his history as a taxi driver, whose career and livelihood depended on his ability to remember details. There is depth and nuance to Martin, who is likeable, insightful, and cares deeply those around him and what they must have to go through as well.
Brian Coyle’s script is a masterwork of understated wit and humanity. Martin’s ailment provides him with a unique perspective on life that is gradually revealed throughout the course of the play. Memory loss can be a limiting premise for any drama, so it is a testament to the strength of Coyle’s writing that Martin should be so well-realised, and able to grow and develop, despite his situation.
On a technical and directorial level, Timeless is tightly and effectively executed. Director Charlotte Peters has managed to get the most from her performer in guiding the story and its development, making smart use of minimal space and props. The transitions between time and scene are handled expertly by technician Matthew Radway, using quick changes in lighting, and musical segues, to take the audience from Martin’s moments of benign reflection to broken despair.
One drawback to the play is its brevity. While Timeless benefits from being concise, certain aspects of Martin’s story feel under-explored or unresolved, including his relationship with his extended family and parents. Martin can only remember his daughter as a little girl. She does appear in the narrative as an older woman but, unlike his partner Tracy, does not seem to have much of a role in his life. Similarly, it would have been interesting to find out more about Martin’s relationship with his abusive father. This trauma may have affected how he views his own children, particularly given the way in which his condition has distanced him from them.
Timeless is a thoughtful, funny, and subtle portrayal of what memory loss does to a person’s sense of self and family. It deserves to be seen, considered, and pondered well after its conclusion.
Author: Brian Coyle
Director: Charlotte Peters
Box Office: 07969 138899
Booking Link: https://lineupnow.com/event/timeless-1
Booking Until: Thursday 4 October 2018