Time of My Life. By Alan Ayckbourn staged by Axbridge Community Theatre
SET originally in the 1980s but staged in 1993, Alan Ayckbourn’s family drama is played out in an Italian restaurant somewhere in Yorkshire.
This production moves the action on a decade and reveals a bickering wealthy family’s self-destruction as the skeletons come out of the cupboard.
But from the ashes of the Stratton’s construction business the lives of at least two female characters emerge as triumphant survivors of the archaic male dominated world of Thatcher’s Britain.
Stephanie dumps her selfish husband Glyn and Maureen is dropped by Adam on his mother’s demands and continues her career in the hair salon and her life with another man.
Shops are closing down, three million people are unemployed and the world’s economy is in recession. Nothing new there. Set within shifting time frames, centred on Laura’s birthday meal the play reflects on the travails of the couples within the family.
Axbridge Community Theatre’s production of Time of My Life directed by John Bailey lives up to Ayckbourn’s critique of late 20th century life in which women are either appeasers or achievers. And in which family firms are vehicles to maintain outdated social conventions. Sadly that is one aspect that has not changed.
Dictatorial matriarch Laura played by Sian Tutil was fittingly evil and self-centred and revealing a vindictiveness towards other females but was also equally ruthless when putting her company boss and husband Gerry played by Phil Saunders in his place.
Ayckbourn’s heroes are Steph played by an excellent Hannah Strohmeier and hairdresser Maureen featuring a variety of wigs played by an animated Katie Williams.
Set in a restaurant where there seemed more staff than customers the town hall was converted into the eatery by David Parkin, Dave and Stella Moore and Nico Man. A restaurant it should be said that nobody should post 1990 enter unless they wish to be ignored or insulted by the staff for indifferent food and even worse wine.
Strong performances from Will Vero as the not quite all there poet Adam, the unlikely womaniser Nigel Newton as Glyn and a Brexit busting David Maclean as the Italian Calvinu – the sleepy owner of the terrible restaurant beloved by the equally terrible Stratton family.
Quite frankly the restaurant staff played by Carole Maclean, Robin Mace, Patsy Newton and Janet Gwinn should not be employed other than at Fawlty Towers such were their terrible waiting skills. But then that was the joke.
Hopefully the establishment will have closed down by now, but the play reminds us of an aspect of British social history which has already passed. Well in most places anyway.
It’s funny, cringe worthy and truthful – but always entertaining.
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