Written by J.B Priestly in 1937, this play follows a rich widow and her six children. It begins in 1919, only a short time after Mrs. Conway’s husband drowned. Her children are playing charades and discussing the world around them. Themes about how time works in the universe are discussed, romanticized and performed. In act two, time leaps forward to 1937. No one’s life has turned out as expected. Time once again falls back to 1919 for the ending of the show to make connections for the characters and themes. Circular time, expectations, family and love whirl around the large and extravagant stage through the two hour program.
The stage was very well set up. Lavish furniture, fluffy pillows, lace curtains and crystal chandeliers made for a rich living space. There were multiple seating areas on and to the side of the stage. The cast utilized the space by having widespread action and a lot of movement. The costumes were interesting and pleasing to look at. The fashion changes from act one with a twenties flapper-esque style utilizing bright colors and many layers, to act two with a forties working-class attire with button ups and satin suits. It is fitting how the clothes change with the time and characters’ personality.
There are a lot of lines in this show, but sometimes the cast would fumble with their parts. The show feels long. Act two dragged on for longer than I thought was necessary. The aspects of their lives which were hinted at were hinted at many, many times. It took a long time for everyone to finally get on stage so events could unfold. I the Director had cut out about fifteen minutes, the destruction and deterioration of their lives and dreams would have been more effective. Between acts two and three, there is a part where multiple versions of Kay are on stage and that really threw me off.I believe I understood it was showing other dimensions or realities, but I thought is as corny and unnecessary; it would not have negatively affected the show if it was taken out.
Mrs. Conway (Shannon Seward, Riverview senior)
Seward was posh, doting, and a little overwhelmed; just like a rich mother of six would be. Her character was complicated, and Seward’s subtle body language displayed that well. The cynical side of her character shone through when she chose her favorite children, and openly resented others later in the show. Seward could have pushed her emotions a little further because she did not always appear to be fully enveloped in her character.
Kay Conway (Callie Bussell, Grosse Ile senior)
Bussell always comes through when she’s playing a psychologically unstable character. Kay is an aspiring writer who is willing to leave everything behind for her career, or so she thinks. Bussell’s distraught facial expressions and stiff posture bring out the hardness of her character. But her softer, inner conflicted artist makes an appearance on stage as well when Kay has to go through the difficulties of the future.
Hazel Conway (Meghan Bortle, Delton junior)
Bortle portrayed an outwardly snobbish girl who had a warm and possibly weak heart. She was prude, but funny with swift arm motions and snappy spoken lines. Even when in the background, her expressions followed the events that were unfolding. In the 1937 scenes, Bortle’s character tried to be strong, but it was apparent something was wrong in her character’s life. She was still snappy and proper, but her eyes were downcast and her arms were often crossed. Bortle used her usual theatre voice, which did not fit the other accents of the cast, but it wasn’t too distracting.
Madge Conway (Marie Perrault, Berkley sophomore)
Madge was a complicated character to play. She was young and proud, wanting to prove her political knowledge and power to her family. She wanted to be strong, but was still caught up in her emotions. Perrault stood up straight and over-annunciated, making her seem superior. She would sit off to the side deeply involved in her political pamphlets, but she would always glance up, as though she wanted to be a part of the fun. She grows into a stiff and lonely old woman with a lot of power. Perrault is aloof and angry, often shouting and getting in peoples’ faces. She slouched a few times, which threw off her character’s powerful heir, but she would catch herself.
Carol Conway (Dana Sorenson, Birmingham senior)
Sorenson was full of childish laughter and wide-eyed expression. She ran about the stage and moved in close to the other cast members, having her character’s loving personality shine through. Her voice was interesting, she sounded very young and lively. The one issue I had is she was always very busy on stage, which was sometimes distracting when she was not the main focus of the scene.
Robin Conway (Paden McCown, Grosse Ile senior)
McCown held a sense of pride and charisma in the first and third acts. He also walked around with a slight sense of arrogance at obviously being the favorite son and brother. He was loving and kind towards his family, but it was clear he had anxiety about his future. He would pause and stammer when talking about a career. In the second act, Robin has not been successful like he was in his youth. McCown stumbled around stage and kept pouring himself drinks. He was apprehensive towards the other cast, but still displayed tentative affection by trying to sit next to them or making an effort to appear like nothing was wrong.
Alan Conway (Zach Neithercut, Flint senior)
Alan was the awkward middle child of the show. Neithercut often stood quietly in the background with a vacant expression. He was reserves and idle, not doing much of anything, as was his character. My one qualm was during act two when Alan has a moment of coming out of his shell. He offers up some deep knowledge and compassionate words, but I was not really feeling it from Neithercut. He used the same demeanor and attitude as before. I feel like he should have been a little bit more emotional.
Gerald Thornton (Max Brosnahan-Lusk, Berkley junior)
I did not see why there needed to be a romance between Gerald and Madge, at least not for Gerald’s sake. It gave some insight into Madge’s character, but it did not developed Gerald’s character. Brosnahan-Lusk played his art well. Being a personal friend and a business partner would lead to a tough relationship with the family, so he often seemed uncomfortable as to how to address Mrs. Conway and the children. He would speak formerly and stammer into informal. He kept his distance and kept his arms at his sides.
Ernest Beevers (Peter Verhaeghe, Swartz Creek senior)
Verhaeghe’s character is meek at first but develops into a monstrous man. He was reserved in his movements and spoke in a nervous way. He tentatively approached other cast members and stood off to the side. In act two Verhaeghe struts around stage and has a cocky attitude. He is forward and demanding using a loud voice and making physical contact with other cast members.
Joan Helford (Meghan Slocum, Paw Paw senior)
Slocum mumbled some of her lines and slouched around the stage. In the second act, this worked very well. Joan had a troubling marriage and more going on in her life than she could handle. But in acts one and two, the acting did not work very well with the character.
Overall, Time and the Conways was an interesting and unique show. The actors seemed to have learned and experienced a lot in preparation and performance of this show. The show runs from Thursday Apr. 10. at 8:00 pm, through a Sunday matinee at 2:00 pm in the Herrick Theater. Tickets are $2.00.
Photos by Hannah Litvan