Gerry and Laura are having a party to celebrate Laura’s birthday. The couple have invited only four other people, elder son Glyn and his wife Stephanie, who he’s just reconciled with, and younger son, the mollycoddled Adam, along with Maureen, his new girlfriend who they haven’t met. Starting towards the end of the party, Time of My Life quickly splits into three strands, all set in the same resturant. Gerry and Laura’s story moves forward in real time, while we see Glyn and Stephanie in the future, and follow Maureen and Adam’s relationship back to their first meeting, with a series of scenes going in reverse order.
Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy is wry and observational rather than providing too many laugh out loud moments, but with strong performances from all seven cast members here – the three couples and Neil Wright in five roles as restaurant owner Ernesto Calvinu and various other members of his family – it’s definitely a play worth seeing. Ayckbourn has created instantly recognisable characters – none more so than Laura herself, wonderfully played by Maggie Bowen, who returned to Grove Park Theatre last year after a long absence. Her disdain for both of her sons’ partners, and her preference for imaginative Adam over her older son Glyn, shine through in every scene. Of the three couples, as good as they all are, Tim Williams as Adam and Stephanie Phillips as Maureen, desperate to make a good impression on his family, benefit from the best scenes but also have the most chemistry – I hope to see both of these newcomers to Grove Park in many more productions in the future!
After the excellent Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell in February, Grove Park go from strength to strength and with six performances left in this run, theatre fans are well advised to try and catch this show if possible. The play runs until Saturday April 20 and tickets can be booked by calling 01978 351091 or online.