Feature

Review of reviews: Stage

The Time of Your Life

The Time of Your LifePacific Resident Theater Los Angeles (310) 822-8392

***

William Saroyan’s Pulitzer-winning 1939 play about ruin and redemption among a group of eccentric bar patrons “captures America on the defining cusp of World War II,” said F. Kathleen Foley in the Los Angeles Times. The play bears certain resemblances to Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, yet over the years O’Neill’s play has ascended while Saroyan’s has waned. There are legitimate reasons for this. Saroyan’s at-times-sentimental tale of a wealthy boozer named Joe’s attempt to play cupid with a sad young prostitute named Kitty and a young patron named Tom can be an odd mix of “the caustic and the corny.” Yet Matt McKenzie’s ambitious direction overcomes such shortcomings by highlighting the nonlinear narrative and other aspects of the play that “prefigured American theater’s segue into alternative forms.”

McKenzie does a meticulous job of “exploring all the different corners of Saroyan’s saloon with understated finesse,” said Terry Morgan in Variety. Saroyan’s play hinges on the unconventional, propulsive dialogue. Both director and cast understand this. As Joe, Robb Derringer anchors the helter-skelter atmosphere of the bar, coming across as a sage and world-weary drunkard “who understands the negative but opts for the positive.” Shiva Rose plays Kitty with fitting wistfulness, and Matt McTighe nails Tom’s bleary-eyed, winning enthusiasm. As the bar’s owner, Nick, Christopher Shaw plays a decent man who runs a decent place with winning charm. Together, the ensemble brings Saroyan’s classic to “warmhearted, boisterous life.”

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