“If this is July, there must be a good play going up at Santa Barbara City College.” Thanks to the SBCC’s Theater Group, this maxim is among the truest and most dependable things one can say about summer and drama in Santa Barbara. Regardless of the renovation that’s currently closed the Garvin Theatre, director Rick Mokler and a sterling cast will present Alan Ayckbourn’s 1992 play, Time of My Life, in the Interim Theater starting this Thursday, July 8, and running through Saturday, July 24. Ayckbourn’s family drama takes place in a restaurant and employs a cast of seven to portray the emotional lives of three couples—the Strattons’ Gerry (Jon Koons) and Laura (Katie Thatcher); their grown sons, Glyn (Brian Harwell) and Adam (Josh Jenkins); and their respective partners, Stephanie (Leesa Beck) and Maureen (Marisa Welby-Maiani). The seventh actor is SBCCTG comedian extraordinaire Ed Lee, who plays no less than five distinct waiters. For tickets and information, call 965-5935, and check out Mokler’s reasons to catch the play below.
1] Ayckbourn Is a Great Writer: “The scenes he writes are just so tight and economical,” said Mokler. “The actors love it, even though it puts a lot of pressure on them to get things right. Each couple has a series of short scenes in which to tell their story, and there is none of the door slamming sometimes used in farce to make it easy for them.”
2] It Has an Unusual and Exciting Structure: “It starts in what becomes the present, but within the first seven minutes of stage time, things split up and begin running both backward and ahead,” explained Mokler. “The parents stay in what is understood as the present, but the older son’s relationship with his wife is then portrayed in the future and the younger son’s in the past. When we rehearsed the scenes that go backward in time, we actually took them in proper chronological order at first, so that the actors could get a feeling for their motivations. By the end of the play, 90 minutes of the original dinner have passed, but the story ends back at the beginning of the evening.”
3] Ed Lee Plays Five Funny Characters: “The whole time that these couples are examining their lives and revealing all kinds of things about themselves and about the nature of families, Ed Lee keeps reappearing as the waiter” said Mokler. “He makes four costume changes in about 40 minutes, and he is hilarious.”