POST: 'Time and the Conways' - Why can't they be friends?

What it's about.

Time and the Conways is a revitalization of a 1937 J.B. Priestley creation (don't worry, I didn't know who he was, either). It follows an upper class English family through two time periods (post WW1 and pre WW2) and reveals how this wealthy family falls apart despite their advantages. 

My experience.

On first instinct, I wanted to call this show depressing. But the more that I now think about it, it seems more complicated than that. At the end of the performance, I left feeling almost ambivalent. The conclusion left me feeling like none of the established problems had really been solved. Oddly, that felt almost fitting. It felt like that was an accurate reflection of real life. I liked that there was no neat wrap-up of the story – like the problems we all face in everyday life, there are no easy answers.

I had endured a long and busy day before the curtains rose. I was even napping on trains, and I never do that! I was definitely worried that I would have difficulty staying focused during this performance. It was supposed to be about two and a half hours long. Not going to lie, there were definitely points where my eyes got droopy. I had to stop, shake off the cobwebs, and re-focus. I’m sure we’ve all been there – a long day at work or in class, and you’ve got other stuff on your plate, but you just REALLY don’t want to miss that show.

More than anything else, I felt a lot of pity for the characters in this story. I perceived them as caricatures of types of people we all know in our lives (or at the very least have heard about). There was the drunk, gambling man, or the judgmental mother, the favorite child who throws it all away, the political idealist who isolates her loved ones through ideology. Everyone was deeply flawed in some way. It just made me feel so bad for these characters. They couldn’t escape their deep deficiencies as people. I wasn’t really rooting for them, exactly. But I hoped they could find a way to avoid destroying their own happiness.

As much as anything else, I felt like this was a show about arrogance.  In my opinion, it was one of the most insufferable parts about the characters in the show. I absolutely rolled my eyes a few times at things they said and did. I even wanted to scream at some of them. They all seemed so engulfed in and blinded by wealth and comfort that they couldn’t even see their privileged position in society. In a lot of ways, I thought, it echoed the kinds of divides that we see today. It’s hard to overstate just how much these characters made the experience. They seemed so lifelike and genuine.

I really liked that this show took such an outlandish premise – that of a 20-year time warp (from 1919 to 1937, and then back again!) -- and made it feel normal. It was so real, and the issues and divisions that existed among the main characters (who were all part of the same family) was so palpable and echoed the kinds of things I’ve felt with some people in my life, as well as things friends have told me about. I also found myself wondering how I would look back on my youth in 20 years. I’m only 23, but already, I find myself reflecting on choices I made in high school or in college with a brand-new perspective.

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