TIME OF MY LIFE
by Alan Ayckbourn.
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre to 30 April
410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 30 April 2016.
Tues-Sat 7.45pm. Mat Sat 30 April 3.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 14 April.
No laughing matter but lots of laughs.
Ayckbourn’s 45th play which had a modest success in 1993 in the West End uses time shifts to illumine his plot about a happy family birthday celebration at which the family is anything but happy. J.B Priestley’s time plays appear to have inspired him.
Ayckbourn has used simultaneous action before to show the consequences of actions, but here we get things in scenes from the future and the past which inform the present.
It start with the end of the 54th birthday party for Laura, wife of a successful builder, attended by her two sons, one daughter in law and one new – and as far as she is concerned – totally unsuitable girlfriend for her beloved younger son. Glyn, the elder son, who works for his father, has had an affair and is now back with his anorexic wife but remains an inveterate womaniser.
Adam, Laura’s favourite is artistic, which means he has no idea what he wants to do and has set up an arts magazine. He has brought Maureen, a nice, vulgar hairdresser he is secretly engaged to. Treated by Laura with disdain and suffering from nerves she gets very drunk, is then very ill in the Gents and the party starts to break up.
We then shift in time to see how Adam and Maureen met, and how Glyn and Stephanie’s marriage gets on, and then go back to the aftermath of the dinner party when Laura and husband Gerry, both now drunk, start to fight and a family secret is disclosed.
Around the family a series of comic waiters and the owner of the restaurant, played by the same actor, disport themselves. It is very funny but, as always with Ayckbourn, no laughing matter. The performances are good with Hilary Derrett as Laura doing a devastatingly good North Country snob, the mother in law from hell in many respects, while Mark Steere matches her as the not as straightforward as he seems loving husband.
The irony is that Hilary probably ends up happiest, yet she causes most of the trouble. In some respects the social observation has dated – this is a world before mobile phones for a start, although it does tinker with on line dating, and nobody worries about drinking and driving. But Ayckbourn has conjured up a family everyone will recognise and David Lucas has directed it well. It is not one of the great Ayckbourn plays, but this well staged revival shows that it stands the test of time.
Gerry: Mark Steere.
Laura: Hilary Derrett.
Glyn: Pearce Sampson.
Adam: Elliot Berry.
Stephanie: Charlie McClimens.
Maureen: Layren Scott-Berry.
Calvino, Toto, Aggi, Dinka, Bengie: Joey Bartram.
Amelia Newbold plays Maureen at some performances.
Director: David Lucas.
Set Designer: Paul Lunnon,
Scenic Artist: ChiaraPecchioli.
Lighting Designer: Joshua Sung.
Costume Designer: Debbie Griffiths.
Hair and Wig Designer: Mark Andrerson and Ray Martson Wig Studio.