Updated: Mar 20, 2019
★★★☆☆ - Satisfying
“About Time” by Tom Cole is a script that could use some red meat on its bones but, since this is not an original play, my job is to critique the production, now in performances at Theatre in the Valley.
On the surface, it’s a sweet peek into the life of an aging couple, He and She, who have reached the point of staring the inevitable in the face. Life is slowing down, short term memory is faltering, and the joints are failing. Underneath, it’s a treatise on what sets humanity apart from other life: We know and understand that we have a finite amount of time. Some of us accept it gracefully, and the closer we get to it the more some of us fear the end.
The former would be She, played with dotty delight by Helen Okonski. She moves through the opening scene going about the business of life as on any normal day, the aches and pains of age not quite permanently settled. Okonski gives the character a Sophia-mixed-with-Blanche “Golden Girls” quality; she’s slyly ditzy.
The latter is He brought to curmudgeonly fun by Peter Vitale. He limps on a bad knee, growls about the short-term memory of She, and half whines about not getting fed on time or at all. Vitale delivers a softer Detective Fish from the old comedy series “Barney Miller;” snarky on the outside, heart of gold in the inside.
As directed by Randy Hample, Vitale and Okonski work well together, and their timing works well for the most part. Moves are motivated by underlying pathos. However, there are more laughs to be mined with the right kind of tone in retort, or an added physical reaction, and the pacing is a bit too even-keeled. We need more variation of intensity beyond the pitfalls of He having issues with the bum knee, or She brandishing a butcher knife.
Presented in the round (a first for this company, and the kind of risk they should take more often), on a set design by Hample, who has done an admirable job in moving his actors around the stage. We never felt cheated even with the actors facing away. He has also seen to the details of production; a coffee pot that brews, a kitchen sink with running water, a refrigerator with a working light. Props are appropriate and real right down to the jug of milk and a bottle of red wine. These are things which keep an audience in the state of suspended disbelief, keep them grounded in the action taking place in front of them, as much as believable acting.
Overall, the production is an enjoyable evening out. If you’re on the same precipice of life as the characters, you should get a kick out of this trifling script. If you’re still on the upward climb, you’ll get a glimpse of what you have to look forward to, and realize, in the end, it’s not all bad – it can even be fun.
What: About Time
When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, through June 4
Where: Theatre in the Valley, 10 West Pacific St, Henderson
Tickets: $10 - $15 (www.theatreinthevalley.org, 702- 558-7275)
Producer: Theatre in the Valley; Director: Randy Hample; Set Design: Randy Hample; Lighting and Sound: Rick Bindhamer; Props: Lois Brown, Joan Vogel; Production Manager: Megan Riggs; Stage Manager: Jolynne Sanchez