Time is Love
Reviewed – 4th January 2019
“Atim and Akuwudike particularly stand out as being well cast and effortlessly engaging”
Set against the dark, urban landscape of modern-day Los Angeles, ‘Time is Love’ is Chè Walker’s new play making its British premiere this year at the ever-intriguing and inventive Finborough Theatre. It’s a tense, urban noir, swerving in and out of lap dancers’ dressing rooms, brothels and police interrogation rooms, making effective use of video and an edgy, percussive score by Olivier award-winning Sheila Atim (who also stars).
Flicking between 2016 and 2019, we are made aware of an impending “catastrophe” by narrator-cum-prostitute Serena (Sasha Frost) that will rock the lives and of Blaz (Gabriel Akuwudike) and his long-term girlfriend Havana (Jessica Ledon). Back in 2016, Blaz is imprisoned for three years, taking the fall for childhood friend and partner-in-crime Karl (Benjamin Cawley). In the three years that follow, Karl and Havana jostle for Blaz’s heart, with Havana ‘playing away from home’ with crooked cop Seamus (Cary Crankson). Sheila Atim’s lap-dancer Rosa offers comfort and wisdom through the smog.
Filled with excellent acting, the ensemble’s characterisations create a convincing image of the Los Angeles underworld. Atim and Akuwudike particularly stand out as being well cast and effortlessly engaging. However, the production has some failings that centre around Walker’s script and direction. A large white screen plays canvas to filmed footage that underscores most scenes, but too often the footage simply shows us the action of the scene ‘on location’ and can be distracting. More interesting is when we see Havana enact violent revenge on an unsuspecting lap-dancer. When film shows us something we cannot see on stage, it really proves its worth.
Too many scenes are created by two characters entering a space and talking. This sometimes works, but with a script littered with lengthy, exposition-heavy monologues, it is easy to lose interest. Walker has a unique take on a classic tale of betrayal, and the world he creates is certainly intriguing, but the focus seems uncertain at times. Los Angeles is a patchwork of people and stories, but we need more as an audience to find these disparate characters worth our time.
Overall, Walker has gathered a stunning ensemble and built a convincing, urban world on stage, but currently it just falls short of being brilliant.
Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich
Photography by DWGH Photos
Time is Love
Finborough Theatre until 26th January
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: