Review - 4.5 out of 5 stars
by Revonda Pokrzywa
With their production of Alan Ayckbourn's "Time of My Life", the Zeitgeist Stage Company invites us to live in the moment. Currently being directed by David Miller, "Time of My Life" begins in the middle of a family dinner at their favorite restaurant Essa de Calvi, being held in honor of Laura Stratton's 54th birthday. After the family begins to leave the restaurant, the play is split into three separate time lines. On one side, we are shown the future where we see the oldest son Glyn and his wife Stephanie's marriage slowly fall apart after the events of the birthday dinner. In the middle, the birthday dinner continues to unfold as Laura and her husband Gerry share revelations about their own marriage. On the other side, time moves backwards as we are treated to the youngest son, Adam's blossoming relationship with his girlfriend Maureen. Each of these stories takes place in the same restaurant and are somehow linked to the events at Laura's birthday party. Within these stories, "Time of My Life" manages to grapple with many issues faced in relationships without ever being preachy or melancholic. Instead, Zeitgeist's production of "Time of My Life" manages to take the seriousness of life with all of its ups and downs and make it amusing.
"Time of My Life" is playing at the Plaza Black Box theatre located in the Boston Center for the Arts at 539 Tremont St., Boston. It plays now through March 3rd. If you are looking for something non-conventional to see over Valentine's Day, this show would be my pick.
One of the ways that "Time of My Life" avoids tragic tones in spite of some of its subject matter, including the end of relationships, class divisions and family drama, is by adding a lot of visual comedy. Much of this is due to Gene Dante, who plays several different waiters at the restaurant in addition to the owner, Calvinu. Each of his costumes and personae seemed to be more bizarre than the one before, including such things as fat suits and over-the-top wigs. If you've ever been at a restaurant and met a waiter who was incredibly rude, incompetent, or completely determined to serenade you, then you've met some of the characters that Dante becomes. He was one of my favorite actors in this, mainly because he managed to add levity to the scenes without being annoying; a feat more difficult than it sounds.
All of the actors in "Time of My Life" were exceptional. It was obvious that they had all received extensive voice coaching to perfect the English accent. Often English plays performed locally can contain some very grating accents, so this was a very nice change. I thought that Maureen Adduci's matriarchal portrayal of Laura Stratton was particularly believable and compelling. I also loved watching the facial expressions of her husband, Gerry Stratton, played by Michael Steven Costello, as he reacts to her deadpan delivery.
Fabian Aguilar's costume designs alone are worth a special mention. Before the show, the director and scenic designer Miller mentions a special fund raiser that Zeitgeist is holding just to pay for the wigs and costumes. Only a few minutes in, it's easy to see why. Set in Thatcher's Britain, "Time of My Life" explores cultural divides by relying rather heavily on differences in dress between the posh upper-class and the punkish lower middle class. The wigs and costumes also add quite a bit of comic effect. For example, Adam's girlfriend Maureen, played by Ellen Soderburg, wears several outfits that might make some drag queens blush, while commenting on their "boorishness". Without the wigs and costumes, "Time of My Life" would lack a certain sparkle.
"Time of My Life" could have easily played out as a melodrama. It does n't shy away from the darker parts of life. Instead, it shows them in a comic light and helps us to appreciate the moments we do have.
Time of My Life
Feb 10, 2012 - Mar 3, 2012
Black Box Theatre - Boston
Zeitgeist Stage Company
Time of My Life by award winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn revolves around a family dinner at their favorite restaurant organized by successful businessman Gerry Stratton to celebrate his wife Laura's 54th birthday. Their grown sons, Glyn and Adam are also present. Glyn is with his long suffering wife Stephanie; Adam has brought along his new girlfriend, Maureen, an outrageous hairdresser.
It is after the dinner breaks up that Ayckbourn's real genius becomes apparent as the play takes off in three different directions simultaneously. The parents remain in present time, disclosing secrets and redefining their relationship. The oldest son's story moves forward in time over the course of two years, exposing a troubled marriage and a failing business. The youngest son's story moves backwards in time over the course of two months, revealing the beginnings of a relationship. By juxtaposing events from the past, present, and future, Ayckbourn provides a unique perspective on the family's relationships and affairs.
""A play by an inspired master craftsman and cunning psychologist working at full stretch: harsh and funny, simple and cunning, generous but unforgiving."" - The London Times; ""Ingenious."" - The Guardian
This show runs 2 hours and 20 minutes with 1 intermission.
Tickets and showtimes...
Black Box Theatre - Website
539 Tremont Street
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