Watermill - Only a Matter of Time
13th February to 23rd March 2002.
From The Times 22/02/2002, Jeremy Kingston: "...however stimulating the insights along the way, the journey to a foregone conclusion forfeits the thrill of uncertainty." 2 stars (out of 5).
This is the Newbury Weekly News view.
Playing with time and chance
'ONLY A MATTER OF TIME', at The Watermill, until March 23
It is 1840 and the railway has yet to traverse the country east to west. In a Welsh field a stranger chances upon a farmer turning his hay.
Newbury Theatre's view:
Its an odd little play. Act 1 is about an educated Englishman who goes to Wales in the 1840s as part of the construction of the Great Western Railway. He meets an illiterate Welsh farmer, and fails to explain to him the benefits of progress. Act 2 is set in the present day and is about a chance meeting between two descendents of the original two - the industrial revolution has been replaced by the information revolution. Its a comedy, but with serious undertones, about irreconcilable differences between people.
Alan Plater originally wrote this as a radio play, and his adaptation of it specially for the Watermill can't escape from its origins. It's very wordy, very static, and although it's a short play and the themes are interesting, it never quite fulfils its potential.
Meredith, the Welshman, played by Brendan O'Hea, takes a simple Luddite view of things when confronted with Fanshawe's (Simon Walter) arguments in favour of progress, but his own cogent arguments belie his peasant background. It's clear where Plater's sympathies lie, and Fanshawe never manages to outsmart his oppo, although a few pints together finally manage to bring some tolerance, if not consensus.