CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE
Time of My Life
"Time of My Life," --Irene Backalenick
For Alan Ayckbourn fans, any offering of the British playwright is an occasion for joy. But not every
play by such a prolific writer (7l full-length plays since 1959) can be expected to match his best
Such is the case with his current piece at the Westport Country Playhouse-his 1992 comedy "Time
of My Life." Though this comedy has many of the recognizable Ayckbournisms, it never reaches the
hilarious heights of, say, an earlier one, "The Norman Conquests."
"Time of My Life" deals, as usual, sharply but affectionately, with British upper-middle-class family
relationships-parents and children, husbands and wives. The clan consists of an overbearing mother,
a blustering, ineffectual father, and two cowed sons-one a coddled favorite, the other ignored. The
younger women on the periphery also suffer her high-handed treatment. Along the way are two
troubled marriages and an engagement destined for destruction.
It all takes place in an Italian restaurant the family has frequented for years, focusing on the
matriarch's birthday. As Ayckbourn is often preoccupied with the nature of time, "Time of My Life"
moves freely in the past, present and future, though not necessarily in that order. In his other plays,
his high-handed treatment of time was intriguing, but this time around it merely makes for confusion.
In fact, it takes time to realize that each couple functions in different periods of time.
Despite the play's problems, John Tillinger directs with skill and gets solid performances from his
cast. Cecilia Hart is chillingly effective as the mother Laura. Fortunately for Hart, she has the juiciest
lines and delivers them with lethal thrusts. The ever-reliable Paxton Whitehead is a proper foil as her
husband. As to family, James Waterston never misses a beat in his sharply-defined portrayal of the
elder son, while Carson Elrod, as the younger, brings to his very physical performance the antics of a
clown. The women in their lives are most appealing-Geneva Carr as a victimized wife and Seana
Kofoed as a ditzy would-be wife. Dialect coach Stephen Gabis has worked miracles with these
players, and the British inflections come across authentically. Finally, the stream of Italian waiters
are all played by Jason Antoon with enthusiasm but far too broadly. He should tone it down, though
his lightning-like change of hair styles, costumes and personalities is impressive.
In all, the Playhouse offers a pleasant evening's entertainment (thanks to the cast) and, though not
his best, a taste of Ayckbourn.
After 4/3/08 this review appears in the CT Post and on the web site NYtheaterscene.com (where all
Irene's NY and CT reviews may be found).