Sign of the Times

Written by Tim Firth
Liverpool Playhouse (6th-11th April 2009)

Reviewed by Alison Cornmell

Sign of the Times is a two-man play at the Playhouse theatre starring Stephen Tompkinson and Tom Shaw.

It sees the relationship between trainer and mentor in this bittersweet comedy. Frank (Tompkinson) is a head of electrical installation who takes great pride in his work and his long standing twenty-five year post. Alan is his young work experience apprentice, who as the archetypal teenager seems both annoying and endearing to Frank in equal measure.

The second act depicts Frank and Alan five years on, and positions have switched; now Frank is on a scheme for the long time unemployed. Here Alan is a young man whose dreams have faded slightly, and who has developed a hint of cynicism but demonstrates glimpses of his teenage self.

Sign of the Times had measures of comedy and pathos with touching performances from both actors. Its realistic dialogue and ‘northern comedy’ is both heart warming and touching. Although this play does not have any deep meaning it does demonstrate life can be funny sometimes. Without any definite conclusion there is a conclusion of optimism that left me with a smile when I left the theatre.

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