Apr 7, 2018
by Alexa Chipman
Eccentric San Francisco residents wander through Nick’s waterfront dive bar, swapping outrageous tales, looking for jobs, and flirting with women who take their fancy. Premiering in 1939, the play’s age is evident in jokes about darkies, Indians, and midgets which are in poor taste. William Saroyan’s casual pace and shifting style augments these unfortunate details, coming to a hasty and violent denouement which seems out of place with the previous quiet, thoughtful monologues.
Stage direction by Arte L. Whyte lacks a unifying tone; volume levels of projection vary between soft musing to jarring pronouncements from Harry.Yave Guzman’s set design is focused, with a neutral palette, nods to the setting in clusters of dock pylons, and delightful vintage ambience.
Bret Palmer’s relaxed demeanor integrates well with Nick, the owner, who looks out for his customers and keeps the beer flowing. Perched on his end stool, Peter Immordino’s Arab provides endless entertainment in the background, shuffling through a newspaper or playing harmonica. Trouble on the docks brings in longshoreman McCarthy (Danny Ray Bullington, Jr.) and his unlikely friend, beat cop Krupp (Dee Dee Robbins) debating why it is easy to feel dissatisfied with life. Drifting through for a drink, Mary (Nichelle Wyatt-Whyte) adds a touch of poised elegance under her burden of inexpressible sorrow.
‘The Time of Your Life’ calls for challenging realism through Saroyan’s language. Conversations have layered meaning under chewing gum contests and confrontations. Unfortunately, the majority of the ensemble comes across as artificial and self-conscious, which clashes with the dialogue, resulting in a stilted atmosphere.
Patrons gather searching for a home and purpose, themes which are still relevant, but the play itself has concerning elements of racism and treatment of female characters; for example, Nick dismisses his daughter with a command to go home and help her mother cook him supper. While ‘The Time of Your Life’ may be of interest to historians, it has difficulty resonating with a contemporary audience.
Presented by Cloverdale Performing Arts Center through April 15, 2018
Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm
Cloverdale Performing Arts Center
201 Commercial St, Cloverdale, CA 95425
Photos by John Gobeille
Author Website - http://imaginationlane.net
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