With delightful language and superb acting, two out of three elements are nailed in this production to make it an outstanding play. It now only needs a mesmerising plot to stress the significance of this story, in contrast to the vast amount of stories being told today.
Time is Love/ Tiempo Es Amor is a short play set in East Los Angeles that jumps between 2016 and 2019. It follows the life of Blaz before and after his three-year sentence behind bars and the relationship he has with his high school sweetheart Havana. The audience is thrust into the Latin culture of the characters and the struggles of their working class background. The actors jump between Spanish and English effortlessly throughout, which gives a real flavour to the setting. It begins with a death and while it seems insignificant to start with, it soon unravels to show that everyone connects to Blaz in some way.
The whole production is enhanced by Chai Rolfe’s videography, which brings lifelike moments to the piece, making it ever more captivating. These run in parallel to the scenes to reiterate the drama on stage, a lovely effect that adds and never detracts from what is happening.
Ché Walker’s writing is very strong; he plays around with powerful language and describes with gruelling detail, so it’s unfortunate that I wasn’t fully captivated by the story. The production is a window into another culture and way of life, commenting on relationships going through turbulence over time. But it’s difficult to see why this story stands out compared to the many others out there. Walker writes robust monologues that hook the audience into listening carefully to each word used. These are the stand out moments for me, since they are coupled with fantastic actors who do them justice.
Sheila Atim, who plays Rosa, is a powerhouse on stage. Having been fortunate to see her in Girl from the North Country, it’s clear that she always gives a wholehearted performance and can bring tears to her eyes on demand. Gabriel Akuwundike is equally spellbinding on stage and portrays the lead Blaz with athleticism and heart. The hardiness of this character is key to the story and Akuwundike matches this well whilst also showing the character’s vulnerability. Both Cary Crankson (Seasmus- a corrupt cop) and Benjamin Cawley (Blaz’s- criminal friend) give gripping performances. Crankson especially hooks the audience from the start with a slimy coolness in his opening monologue.
Jessica Ledon plays the gorgeous girlfriend Havana and represents a larger than life, passionate Latin American. However in this small setting, it feels caricaturist at times and is out of place in this deeply realist piece. Finally, the charismatic Sasha Frost plays Serena the Sex Worker and while she doesn’t appear much, Frost certainly makes a strong mark by her superb acting and convincing ease.
Time is Love/ Teimpo Es Amor is worth watching for the actors and the captivating script. Regardless of the fact that I cared little for the story, whose moral seems to be time is love and love is time, a nonsensical motto in my mind. All of this is made up by the hearty dialogue, which makes it a splendid ‘fringey’ night out!
Time is Love/ Teimpo Es Amor is playing at The Finborough Theatre until 26 January 2019. For more information and tickets, visit the Finborough Theatre website.