J.B Priestley’s 1937 time-traveling play Time and the Conways has gotten a Broadway revival, which is perfectly apt; revivals tend to prove Priestley’s point that everything that occurs in one’s lifetime is happening at the same time. After all, I’ve seen Gypsy six times, and with each new revival, I feel like I’ve journeyed back in time to the last one—though at least Time and the Conways is something that’s done very rarely; this is its first Broadway revival.
In the play, an upper class British family has survived WW1 while clinging to prosperity and optimism in the relatively bright new world of 1919. As directed by Rebecca Taichman (Indecent), the actors start out way too chirpy, almost providing a satire of a traditional British drawing room dramedy. But jump 19 years—and a set change—later, and lives, relationships, and hopes have been drastically altered, one character warning quite accurately about changes in the landscape that will prompt the next world war.
Whether playing a game of “char-ahds” or giving neurotically charged sociopolitical monologues, the actors are directed to go for the max, an approach that deepens a bit when more melancholy (and a chronological gimmick) manages to seep in. As the widowed matriarch of the Conways, Elizabeth McGovern is a resourceful actress, but seems to be straining a little to attain the character’s lacerating putdowns and mood shifts. And yet, you’ve never seen this play before and might not even see it again, so it’s fair to say the time is now. Reclaim your time!
Find ticket information here.