The season gets under way with a revival of an Alan Ayckbourn bitter-sweet comedy.
It’s a cloudy chilly start of a summer which promises a new comedy from the venue’s former artistic director and also from John Godber.
Time of My Life is melancholic reflection. It’s regret at not savouring the good times – like leaving champagne to go warm and flat.
The play opens at a birthday dinner in a restaurant. Laura is celebrating with husband Gerry, their two grown-up sons Adam and Glyn and their respective part- ners.
Subsequent action moves forwards and backwards in time – showing what happens to the three couples in the future and exposing their past.
As always with Ayckbourn there is more to this happy family than at first meets the eye. A mother unable to love her older son, the erring husband who realises the error of his ways too late, a cuckolded bully of a husband, an indulged younger son unable to settle to any job or woman and a young, feisty woman who undoubtedly will get the better of them all.
It is all set in the same restaurant – where only times move, the menu and the deliberately rude waiters remain the same.
Class, marriage, motherhood, hope, ambition and regrets are all themes explored here – with intricate word play and bald irony. This is also one of Ayckbourn’s rare northern plays – and has a harder edge to it as a consequence.
The company – many familiar faces to Ayckbourn fans including Sarah Parks, John Branwell and Ben Porter – are excellent.
In the end the message is simple: live for the moment, enjoy that moment because you never know what’s round the corner.
It’s on various dates until October 4.
Review: by Sue Wilkinson