I left NIDA’s Studio theatre after seeing Stephen Helper’s A SIGN OF THE TIMES thinking that was really, really good.
Seeing so much theatre, as I do, I don’t usually have such a strong, positive reaction.
Since, I have had some time to reflect on what made Helper’s show stand out.
I ruled out some things. The storyline wasn’t really anything special. A guy, simply called Man, tells his story of a difficult life- breaking up with his wife…losing their child to cancer… giving up his professional job to take a mundane job doing the traffic signs at construction zones. Quirky…The difficult stuff of life… but nothing that really hits you between the eyes….
Another thing that I ruled out was the strong production values. A NIDA assisted production, Helper, who also directed the show, had a very strong creative team supporting him and they of-course produced the goods. Plenty of shows have strong production values. Lots…
So, what was it about this show?! I put it down to a few things. Most of all, it was the intimacy and openness generated, both by the writer in his script and Scott Irwin in his performance. This show was all about sharing, reaching and touching the audience with this guy’s journey and perspectives on life.
In some ways, the character of Man reminded me of Woody Allen,- unloading his personal stuff to his audience, quoting from intellectuals… Remember Woody Allen’s direct address to the camera in ANNIE HALL that made it such stand-out. There’s something similar in A SIGN OF THE TIMES. Man walks across to the side of the stage and talks directly into the side stage light as it it was a camera.
As Man says towards the end of the play to the audience, paraphrasing,- I have decided what to do in my life, soon the play will be over and you will have to go out and make decisions in your own lives.
Well worth a look, A Follies Company in association with NIDA Independent production of Stephen Helper’s A SIGN OF THE TIMES opened at the NIDA Studio Theatre on Friday September 13 and plays until Sunday September 22, 2013.