Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company
TIME AND THE CONWAYS
By J.B. Priestley
Nottingham Playhouse to Saturday 27th September 2014
Matinee Thursday 25th September 1.30
Audio described performances Wednesday 24th September 7.45, captioned performance Thursday 25th September 7.45, signed interpreted performance Friday 26th September 7.45
TICKETS: 0115 9419419
Review: Jen Mitchell 18th September 2014
Runs 2hrs 20mins. One interval
A poignant story of the lost hopes and dreams of a post First World War generation.
Opening with a euphoric air, the first act show us a wealthy, established family celebrating the 21st birthday of one of the daughters, Kay, with all the confidence that privilege brings. As Robin, one of two sons, returns home having been demobbed it seems as if all is once again well with the world and the status quo has been restored. Each of the six children, and their mother, look forward to a future filled with hope and promise. Although very different people with very different relationships with each other, the characters are real and recognisable.
The action unfolds in smaller room away from the party, which we hear just off stage. Beyond the room, just beyond the reality of the action, haunting images float by – the deceased Mr Conway, soldiers in the trenches, innocent dancers at the party – reminding the audience of the brevity and fickleness of time.
Beautifully lit, the same set takes us from the warmth and hope of the first act, through the cold fractured future of the second and back again to a present that is somehow different – some of the earlier warmth having been lost.
As the characters reveal their older selves in the second act we become aware of the damage they have inflicted upon themselves and others. It is in this act that we see some really fine acting. Mrs Conway has lost the family money as a result of the depression and some poor decision making. The family gather once again to deal with the fallout on the event of Kay’s 40th birthday. Robin (Mark Edel-Hunt) has failed to fulfil his promise and has become a drinker abandoning his wife and children in the process.
Madge (Pascale Burgess) has lost her youthful socialist optimism and is a bitter and lonely school mistress. Kay (Sian Clifford) has given up her hopes of becoming a novelist and writes a gossip column. Hazel (Sia Berkeley) has married the social climber Ernest Beevers and is existing, frightened, in an unhappy marriage. And young Carol (Rosie Jones) has died prematurely. It is only Alan (Edward Harrison) who appears to remain constant – an unobtrusive figure who imparts the least damage to the others but remains a target of derision for the rest of the family.
Louise Jameson is superb as Mrs Conway – delivering blows to each of her children, apart from Robin, in an almost off-hand way. It is only as we return to 1919 for the third act that we really understand how time has taken each one of those blows and magnified them over the course of the ensuing 19 years.
Hazel Conway: Sia Berkeley
Madge Conway: Pascale Burgess
Kay Conway: Sian Clifford
Robin Conway: Mark Edel-Hunt
Alan Conway: Edward Harrison
Mrs Conway: Louise Jameson
Carol Conway: Rosie Jones
Gerald Thornton: Ifan Meredith
Joan Helford: Olivia Onyehara
Ernest Beevers: Scott Turnbull
Young Madge: Tabitha Graham/Anna Jacques/Sophie-Anne Stanger
Mr Conway: Gordon Parsons/Pat Richards
Dancers: Clemmie Radford/Kaiti Soultana/Mark Jarvis
Soldiers: James Barker/Adam Brooks/Adam Foreman/Daniel Rainford/Max Taylor/Oliver Warrington
Mrs Conway’s songs sung by Olivia Onyehara
Director: Fiona Buffini
Designer: Madeleine Girling
Musical Director: Stefan Bednarczyk
Lighting Designer: Mark Jonathan
Sound Designer: Drew Baumohl
Choreographer: Laura Savage
Fight Director: Philip d’Orléans
Assistant Director: Nic Harvey