Review: Three Days Time

Image credit: Daniel Karaj

You get to choose who you love, unless she’s your mother. Kate Reid’s warm and witty new play explores this idea through a mother-daughter relationship put under strain by a brief brush with the law. Dee is bailing Mary out of jail; unfortunately Mary is her mum. In the painfully close quarters of a whiskey-fumed living room there is no escape from the maternal nagging, the sense of abandonment, and the black hole of a recently deceased husband and father.

The play establishes its slow-burn humour early on: the vengeance of naming, a nosey neighbour, a detailed crack problem that doesn’t exist. Reid’s script is well written, with two carefully constructed characters at its centre. Rose Reade as Dee sets the pace throughout, providing believable angst and even more believable anguish. Connie Dent’s Mary is also convincing, with a tone and physicality beyond her years.

The plot is minimal, framed around this familial bond and the rather fair question ‘Mum, why were you arrested?’ I assure you, the pay off is well worth it! Smaller characters often provide brilliant comic moments (an inner-city shepherd and Jesus’s dads to name only two) yet don’t significantly contribute to an ongoing plot. When they are firing witticisms this doesn’t seem a problem, but in moments where the humour thins out, these smaller roles begin to slow the play’s overall pace. One example is the unrealised comic potential of Eimear Ryan-Charleton's Lorna (Mary’s mother-in-law) - think Maggie Smith’s Dowager but with more swearing. This matriarch of matriarchs appears only in the final quarter of the play and before we have time to really laugh, she is back offstage in a whirlwind of heavy drinking. Fewer side characters with more involvement in the narrative may have had a greater effect.

Nevertheless, this is still some of the strongest student writing I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Three Days’ Time balances its imperfections with genuinely humorous and touching dialogue. When a Usual Suspects call-back feels forced, it is triumphed by a subtle nod to some intrusive birdsong. Dee and Mary’s relationship develops with care and compassion, and it is hard not to be moved as they confront each other about the practicalities of their love. You get to choose which plays to see; give this one some serious thought. Choice is, after all, an interesting choice of word.

8/10

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