THE TIMEKEEPERS, Producer: Carolyn Wilson, Director: Phil Ireland, Performers: Rick Kerr, Joseph Lauria, John Lunman
As theatregoers, we are acutely aware how a strong, dramatic impact of any play can leave a profound influence on us long after the curtain has come down. We know that a play is good if we are thinking about a number of its issues in the days to follow. This is how I felt after I had seen the London, New York and Toronto companies of Yasmina Reza’s ‘Art’ and John Patrick Shanley’s ‘Doubt, A Parable’. Well, upon seeing Saturday night’s performance, I can count Dan Clancy’s ‘The Timekeepers’ up there as well.
This past weekend’s performance is a clear indication that ‘The Timekeepers’ is so compelling and haunting that you will find yourself reflecting on it in the days to follow thanks to the extraordinary and moving work of three veteran performers and to the keen, sharp direction by Phil Ireland. Staged in the intimate auditorium of Oshawa’s Arts Resource Centre by the Durham Shoestring Performers, the audience is immediately thrust into a claustrophobic cell in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, Germany. The opening five-minute pre-performance is mesmerizing and simultaneously terrifying.
In his New York Times Review, Rob Kendt wrote “The Timekeepers” looks like yet another case study in concentration-camp psychodrama. Throw two contrasting characters — in this case, a Jewish artisan (Rick Kerr) and a gay hustler (Joseph Lauria) — into confinement and watch the sparks and, inevitably, their unconquerable common humanity fill the room.” Agreed, this play is a story of unconquerable common humanity, and yet, ‘The Timekeepers’ is more than this. In his program notes, Mr. Ireland stated an interesting quote from Jane Yolen in ‘The Devil’s Arithmetic’: “fiction…can be that witness, that memory [to] remind us that the swallows still sing around the smokestacks.” When you have three dynamic and experienced actors who continually reflect Kendt’s and Yolen’s messages throughout the production, you have the makings of a terrific night of live theatre.
Messrs. Kerr and Lauria hold the skilled acting chops to maintain the brisk, razor-edged duet of dialogue where we, as audience, never lose focus not even for a split second. We are moved from fear to laughter and to tears in a matter of seconds in not knowing what is going to happen next. On top of this, we never know when the brutal capo (a formidable and masterly performance by John Lunman) will arrive which heightens the tension moment by moment. The sound of the ticking clock in each scene change to indicate the passage of time reverberates in the auditorium and in our memory.
Get to see this one before it closes! ‘The Timekeepers’ continues at Oshawa’s Arts Resource Centre (behind Oshawa City Hall) March 30 – April 2 inclusive at 8 pm. Tickets may be purchased at the door or visit the website for further information.