By Tammy Linsell (Guest Blogger for October)
To be on stage completely by yourself and engage and absorb an audience for well over an hour is a rare skill. Stand up comedians and after dinner speakers do it, but to my mind that is very different to carrying the responsibility of being a solo actor telling a story in the form of a play. I’ve seen this done only once before, and that was Pamela Power in Shirley Valentine. She was excellent but she didn’t write the words – Willy Russell did it for her.
Ian Mclaughlin both wrote and performed Good Timin’ and I was fortunate enough to see him on his opening night at Live Theatre yesterday evening. I hadn’t read a great deal about Good Timin’ beforehand and I wasn’t sure how much of the content was autobiographical, but now I understand that this is the true story of Ian’s search for his father, whom he met only once when he was a baby. Ian’s mother gave birth to him when she was just seventeen, and though his father Colin knew about Ian and wanted to be involved in bringing him up, circumstances dictated otherwise. Later in life Ian set about trying to find Colin, and discovered that they looked alike and shared the same interests, posing the nature vs nurture question. Are our characteristics defined by our upbringing, or is it the thread of DNA running down our ancestral line? Much more than that I can’t really tell you because there were some twists in the narrative which I don’t want to give away.
The play has wonderful humour and many things to which we can identify. Silly things, such as how Ian meticulously arranged food on his plate when he was a kid, I used to do that too; then suddenly it turns and evokes a keen sense of sadness and regret at missed opportunities, and the folly of procrastination. Don’t we all do that as well? Do things today, tell people you love them now, don’t leave it until tomorrow and don’t be too proud to make the first move.
Good Timin’ is directed by Max Roberts who also directed the brilliant Wet House. There’s a small part in the play of Ian as a boy, very well acted by Finn Burridge.
I particularly liked the use of the sound and video sequences, and the set which was designed by Amy Watts and the creative team of lighting and sound technicians. It wonderfully complemented Ian’s ability to mime, transporting us back to 1962 and on through the decades to the present day. All in keeping with what I’ve learnt to expect from Live Theatre and the teams working there who bring everything together.
Good Timin’ is on at Live Theatre until Saturday 25 October. Plus, on Friday 24 October join writer and performer Ian Mclaughlin and director Max Roberts as they discuss the process of taking Good Timin’ in the Meet the Team event (following the show). Find out more and buy tickets.