‘Time Tells’ paints a complex, open-ended, and unique picture
When you are first lead through the curtains and into the performance space for TheatreLAB’s Time Tells, a “devised theatre piece” led in concept and creation by Heather Falks, you are encouraged to walk around, mingle, and have a drink. Next you’ll receive a program or “passport” to be stamped by the performers as you visit the different “sectors” sectioned off within the RVA Event Space.
The period before the show is enjoyable, as the audience gets a chance to take a close look at the set and actors. You know you are in for a ride within the first five minutes.
So, before I begin my review of the show, as a caveat I would like to let you know what is about to follow is my personal interpretation of this show, which may or may not be what its creators intended, but hey it’s art right?
The setting of “Time Tells” is hard to determine, which may be the point. For me, it was like being on a space ship, in another world, or possibly inside of someone’s mind. There are five main characters who are each supposed to embody different nouns, Amy (Love) played by Chelsea Burke, Peter (Gratification) played by Chandler Hubbard, Irene (Logic) played by Amber Davis, Ms. Tic (Intuition) played by Sarah Burke, and Gregory (Ambition) played by Caleb Wade. The group appears to be a close-knit tribe who work together to create…something, of which the audience is not privy to, but I believe it to be ideas and creativity.
A screen along the back wall projects a variety of kaleidoscopic images the actors interact with, which appears to represent ideas and individual creativity. In the beginning of the show the images suddenly stop. The group then spends the rest of the show trying to get the screen or “their creativity” to turn back on. In order to do so, two “Sparks,” Cornell played by Michael Todd and Devin played by Maggie Bavolack, are brought in to “ignite” the group’s creativity again.
The group must decide which “Spark” they are going to invite to stay. Devin’s character seems to represent the group’s past and Cornell is their future, highlighted by their contrasting costumes.
On opening night, both “Sparks” are put on trial with their fates decided by the audience in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style finale.
There is not much of a plot to speak of in the show and the run time is very short, probably about an hour fifteen with no intermission. Matt Treacy provides excellent original music throughout, I suppose to inspire the group.
Each actor believably embodies their character or in this case “noun,” especially Sarah Burke as Intuition portrayed as a mystic apothecary and Amber Davis who plays Logic as very tightly wound and to the point.
Chelsea Burke also gives a strong performance as Love, she is emotive and intense.
While I really like the concept of Times Tells and how it evokes a unique experience for everyone who watches the show, it is glaringly obvious that there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Everything is unnecessarily over-designed, from the costumes, the set, and the dialogue.
Sometimes simple is better, or at least less confusing.
“Time Tells” is a limited time engagement, the final shows are this weekend August 29th and 30th at RVA Event Space.
www.theatrelabrva.com for information.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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