Lyceum: Time and the Conways (4.5* / 5*)

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Ian’s 4.5* Review:

I studied the J.B. Priestley play “An Inspector Calls” at school and it made an impression on me then, but I’ve never seen any of his work in the theatre until now.  I shall certainly be looking or for more…

The Lyceum describes the play very eloquently, so I’ll use their words here:

“If you could turn back the clock, would you do it all again?”

“1919, the Conway family house, Yorkshire. Mrs Conway and her family have it all, the war is over; the children look set for a bright and prosperous future; it’s Kay’s 21st birthday.

But, in a twist of time and with a brief glimpse into the future, we discover that life doesn’t play out as expected. Aspirations sour, relationships fail and the truths of the Conway family’s lives are revealed.

Priestley’s play is an extraordinary manipulation of time and the fates, coming to a climax as he subverts the narrative and takes us back to the original moment when this successful family began to sow the seeds of their own downfall.”

The Lyceum production is extraordinary in the way it brings this to life.  The set is very plain and the lighting and music simple leaving the characters as the centre of attention, and the cast are more than capable of this.  The performances are captivating and make the visual experience feel full and rich even though the set is cold and grey.  The characterisations are sharply observed and somewhat uncomfortable.  To call them charicatures would not do them justice as they are engaging in a way that charicature would not achieve, but they are somewhat larger than life at times.

The glimpse we get into the future sees the actors undergo portray older versions of themselves, and it is done brilliantly.  Of course clothing and makeup support the transformation, but the actors convincingly develop every aspect of the character to produce a compelling older version.

I love the way the mood of the play develops through the scenes, and by the end it was haunting and emotional.

I absolutely loved this and I’m almost tempted to go and see it again immediately – not something I often feel about theatre.

Ruth’s 5* Review:

I was absolutely captivated by this play, that’s pretty much all I can say.  I loved the doom-laden and slightly eerie storyline and I loved the underlying unpleasantness of the characters and the way that they interacted.  It was long, and I was pleased, because I could have happily kept watching it.

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