Why does time so often play tricks on us when we go to the theatre? Why do plays rarely feel the length that they actually are — even ones that claim a unity of time, place and action?
I asked myself these questions as I left the Magic Theatre last night after opening night of Anna Ziegler’s perfunctory-schmaltzy new play set in a kids’ camp in Maine, Another Way Home.
The drama, in which an American, upper middle-class family’s testy relationships with each another come to a head when the teenage son, Joey, runs away from his job as a volunteer counselor at a kids’ camp in the woods of Maine following a sparring match with his visiting parents, is heavily preoccupied with the concertina effect of time.
Ziegler explores how we seemingly have no control over the way in which time has this habit, on occasions, of stretching out endlessly long, and on other occasions, appearing to squish so tightly that 30 years seem to go by in a flash.
Disappointingly, the play doesn’t really tell us anything new about this truism of human existence.
What was palpable to me, however, was that despite Meredith McDonagh’s tight direction and some muscular, sensitive performances from the small ensemble cast (Mark Pinter’s explosion of temper during a pivotal scene in his role as the family patriarch, Philip, was scarily engrossing) Ziegler’s short, 80-minute play felt much longer than 80-minutes to to me.