What you see isn’t always what you get. That is a central component to the themes of Time and the Conways, a play set in 1919, then 1937, and back again to the original spot. Through these time leaps, you get the sense of what has occurred, and why. Perhaps most importantly, though, you witness the complete reversal of characters and the aftermath of and results of others’ undoings.
A wealthy widow raising her young adult children after the first World War seems to have everything, and everyone, together. But what seems to be ideal turns out not to be, and the unraveling of it all over the ensuing 18 years is what is supposed to spark our interest and keep us engaged. The problem is that while Elizabeth McGovern gives all she can to keep the show on the rails, it’s frankly difficult to keep tabs on and to care deeply for her six children.
The play center’s around Kay’s (played by Charlotte Parry) 21st birthday and the events that follow it. The play seems t want to hang its hat on Kay’s innocence and importance, however the revelation that she has at the close of the play is difficult and strange to witness. Director Rebecca Taichman does her best to stage the scene, to make this family feel packed in, first in a loving way and then later in a more tense manner. The sole set, courtesy of Neil Patel, stands out as representing two different things entirely at once.
Perhaps the most critical piece of the show is the 1937 scene that helps provide clarity for the audience after a 30-minute opening scene that was knowingly chock full of chaos and confusion. At the intermission, you have clues of what you’ve been watching, and what secrets lying below the surface have been exposed and dealt with. However, the second act that follows, when we return to the 1919 era, leaves much to be imagined. It’s hard to understand why the play goes in the direction it does, when the two halves of a whole in the first act added up to something. With this ‘third half’ at play, the equation just doesn’t add up correctly, no matter how you look at it.