CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE
Time of My Life
A Ponderous 'Time of My Life'
By Geary Danihy
Watching the first act of Alan Ayckbourn's Time of My Life is like watching a well-fed pelican
attempting to take off. He makes a great effort of slapping his wings but never gets higher than six
inches off the water.
Now running at the Westport Country Playhouse, this less than humorous slice of a dysfunctional
British family's life reunites the cast of Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking,
which had the Playhouse audiences rolling in the aisles last season. There wasn't any rolling that I
could see during a recent performance of Time of My Life, but there was quite a bit of fidgeting.
The play's jumping-off point is a family birthday celebration for Laura (Cecilia Hart) held at the
family's favorite restaurant, which is owned by Calvinu (Jason Antoot, who also plays the restaurant's
four waiters - the only truly bright spot in the show).
Their table is set center stage, with two smaller tables flanking it stage left and right, tables that will
be well used, for most of the action consists of various cast members sitting at said tables and
talking to each other (It's My Dinner With Andre times three.)
Laura arrives with her husband, Gerry (Paxton Whiethead - a man born to play the pater familias in
Ayckbourn's plays). They are soon joined by their son, Glyn (James Waterston) and his wife,
Stephanie (the delightful Geneva Carr), followed by the younger son Adam (Carson Elrod) and his
date, Maureen (Seanna Rofoed). Thus, the stage is set for what promises to be some witty dialogue
and people acting at hilarious cross-purposes to each other, a staple in Ackbourn's plays. Alas,
such is not the case. The dialogue is quite often plebian and the delightful cross-purposes that drove
Relatively Speaking never truly arrive.
The birthday dinner sets in motion scenes (set at the two side tables) from Glyn and Stephanie's
deteriorating marriage and progressive flashbacks of Adam and Stephhanie's relationship. It is the
latter that perhaps causes the most fidgeting, for in scene after scene the audience learns little more
than that Maureen, something of a kook, is in awe of the social status of Adam's family and that
Adam continues disingenuously to protest that it doesn't matter. It is not until their final scene, when
they meet cute, that anything of any great comedic or dramatic interest happens between the two.
The scenes between Stephanie and Glyn, although blessed with a bit more substance, are equally
non-starters. He's a philanderer, she's the all-suffering wife, they talk a lot about their marriage, and
that's about it until Glyn inevitably leaves Stephanie and Stephanie blossoms in his absence.
The only evidence, and its circumstantial at best, that this is an Ackbourn play is the relationship
between the parents, Laura and Gerry. It is here that we have an Ackbournian revelation of sorts and
Whitehead gets to do his patented "Comes the dawn" bit, but though the dialogue between the two
is a bit more sprightly and there is movement, it's just not enough to save this essentially static play.
Given what they have to work with, the cast does its best to generate some frolic and fire, but there's
just not enough there, and they are further hampered by the fact that they must sit for just about the
entire evening. At least the sons, daughter-in-law and date get to exit every once in a while, but Hart
and Whitehead basically have to sit motionless at the main table, in the dark, while their fellow
actors perform their side scenes. One can only feel for them.
Kofoed does a very nice job with the socially-challenged Maureen, bringing just the right amount of
anxious earnestness to the part. Playing against her, Elrod mars his performance with a bit too
much bobbing and weaving, often moving as if he is dodging blows in the ring. Carr and Waterston
are quite believable as the anguished couple, and if one didn't know any better one would swear that
Hart and Whitehead have actually been married for forty years.
It is Antoon who is the true bright light in this relatively low-wattage play. He takes on the roles of the
restaurateur and his staff with a great deal of enthusiasm, understandably so, since he is the only
one up on the stage who is allowed to enjoy himself, which he does, especially as the cupid-waiter
who obsequiously serenades Adam and Maureen whenever they are at the restaurant.
The two-act play runs about two hours. I can't speak for the actors, but for at least one member of
the audience the two hours seemed an eternity.
Time of My Life runs through Saturday, April 26. For tickets or more information call 227-4177 or go
To read what other critics have written about this play or to learn what's playing at theaters around
Connecticut, go to www.ctcritics.org.
This review originally appeared in The Norwalk Citizen-News.