Martin, a London cabbie, has a problem – he can’t make any new memories since he went to the dentist ten years ago. Every morning he wakes up he thinks it’s 2008 and the last ten years are a complete blank. He has The Knowledge but doesn’t know how to turn on the television. He went for a root canal that day, and that’s the last thing he remembers.
We’ve seen this sort of plot before in movies like Groundhog Day and Memento, but on a grander scale. In Timeless, it’s smaller and more personal. We’re in a room with Martin, and he’s telling us about his day, from waking up and learning the facts of his situation, to gradually going through his day, with more information coming through about what’s gone on in his life, his relationship with his family and best friend, but like Martin, we don’t know what’s happened in the last ten years. There’s no grand murder mystery or massive life-changing experience to get him out of the situation in this play.
John Rayment as Martin talks to us directly, choosing different audience members at different times and draws all of us in. He’s compelling, engaging and felt completely like a genuine person talking. A real person in a difficult situation, trying to stay positive, trying with all he has to keep it together. He makes jokes to his wife that she’s heard again and again, and you get the sense that he’s not the only person living through the same day repeatedly.
As the day goes on and Martin gets more and more information about the life he’s missing out on, the positive mask does slip and there are moments of hurt and despair, particularly with regards to what he’s putting his wife through. He picks up pieces of information and adds them to the information he’s written on his smartphone, which he is instructed to look at every morning. And more than anything, Martin cares for his family. He doesn’t want to be a burden, and you wonder – what would be the alternative for him if his family moved on with their lives?
But already they have somewhat moved on, things happen in ten years that can’t be undone, and Martin’s day gets increasingly worse, increasingly painful and you ache for him, as he realises that whilst it’s nice to forget the bad days, he doesn’t get to remember any of the good days either. He’s emotionally stuck in ten years ago, not being able to feel the weight of his daughter growing up and having a child of her own, for example.
At the end of the play, we know more than Martin, as he starts his day over again and the events of the previous night are forgotten. It’s then you really see the strength and love of his never seen wife, and your heart breaks a bit for what she must be going through. We always change and grow, and she is with someone who will forever be stuck in the past. And yet, you know the two of them will keep going, one day at a time, somehow. Is it happiness? Maybe not. Do you understand her? Absolutely.
Excellent writing by Brian Coyle, excellent direction by Charlotte Peters and wonderfully acted by John Rayment. I didn’t want it to end, and I hope this killer combination will be seen again. An absolute treat, tender and strong all in one, and you leave feeling profoundly affected by the meeting.
Review by Tori Jo Lau
If you can’t trust your memory what can you trust?
Martin, a London cabbie, has a problem – he can’t make any new memories since he went to the dentist ten years ago. Every morning he wakes up he thinks it’s 2008 and the last ten years are a complete blank! It’s not only strange and upsetting for him, his partner has the unenviable task of explaining what’s wrong with him every single day – and the strain is beginning to show. Can Martin’s relationship survive his condition?
A single-hander, written by Brian Coyle and performed by John Rayment, TIMELESS is a bit like Groundhog Day meets Memento, only the main character is a London cabbie!
How does memory define who we are? What happens if it goes? And, just how reliable is it anyway?