Thursday, November 1, 2012
Time and the Conways - Review _ The People's Theatre
Time and the Conways
The People's Theatre
I came to this play knowing nothing about it other than it was a drama, set between the wars, showing the decline of a once affluent and influential family. It sounded like a typical rich family fallen on hard times period piece, and on the surface it can be taken as such, however there is so much more to it than that. It is a study of the nature and affect of time, and of the nature of relationships and human character.
The play is in three acts –the first and last set in 1919, as the men are returning from war and the country is struggling to recover from it. Act two is set in 1938 as a new war threatens. Act one is full of hope and expectation –the son’s have returned unharmed, and the family celebrate the 21st birthday of Kay (Rye Mattick) The family are full of ambition, dreaming of what they will achieve, sure of their place in society and the world, scornful of the older brother Alan (Michael Blair) who lacks their ambition and drive, only making Lance Corporal in the army, not even a proper officer, and who now works as a pen-pusher in the town hall.
As the play progresses we see the ambitions thwarted and dreams crushed. Of the family and friends only Alan, who was so derided by his siblings for his different outlook on life, seems to have found some kind of contentment.
This is an interesting play, very well presented, from the stage set with it's cogs and windows representing time and perspective, the costumes, sumptuous party dresses in Act l which are exchanged for drab suits as times change and life proves harder and more mundane in Act ll, to the excellent acting of all involved. The characters are very real, showing the affection of the family, but also the petty rivalry and bickering which eventually drives them apart. It provides a lot of food for thought.
The People's Theatre have not disappointed me so far and this is another beautifully presented and professional production. I think the only part that didn't quite work for me the sense of two time periods overlapping - at times Kay senses a shadow of future events - and it was difficult to understand at first that this was what was happening. At the end of Act lll it is made clear however, so perhaps my confusion was intentional? Time after all is not necessarily linear!
Time and the Conways runs until the the 3rd November and I highly recommend it. Well done to all involved.