Well, it hardly falls foul of the Trade Descriptions Act. An Abundance of Tims serves as a useful reminder that there are benefits, after all, of not having absolutely everything the way we would want it to be – or, to put it another way, to quote Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Tim (Tim Chapman) has two other characters, also called Tim, who act as voiceovers, represented on stage as speakers. Not ‘actors who speak’, but speakers, as in ‘sound output devices’. The set-up seems rather impressive, and so it is, to be frank, a pity that the show’s novelty of having three guys with the same name should be slapped down. But I can’t help but point out that until recently (at the time of writing) there was a production in London called Five Guys Named Moe.
The audience could, Tim points out, have been elsewhere, even watching another Tim. I didn’t know this, but according to this Tim, there are still screenings of Call Me By Your Name in selected cinemas; the motion picture stars Timothée Chalamet. Elsewhere, there are two Tims, Tim Morgan and Tim Laurenti, in the current London production of The Phantom of the Opera, and yet another, Timothy Benjamin, is currently in Motown The Musical. You get the idea.
The speaker Tims act almost as the good and bad sides of Tim’s conscience, though not universally so, and as the show progresses, it transforms from an amusing narrative about mistaken identity to a still amusing but darker examination of the possibilities of artificial intelligence and what could occur if the human Tim no longer has total executive authority over the technological Tims. There are things to be learned, too, about how productions of this nature come together, and what essential elements would, if missing, be problematic, to say the least.
Everything centres around the name Tim: the show is set in Timchester, and one of the focal points in this town is the Smokey Timney. As tends to be the case with shows with little set and props, much is described, even to the point of one-sided phone calls pointing out a specified occurrence is happening at a specified location. The sound effects, whether of a car heading north on the M1 or the introductory music to a local news broadcast, are also voiced by Tim, often eliciting laughter from the audience (with justification, I hasten to add). The quick pace of the show is made substantially less exhausting than it might have been, thanks to the Tims being in dialogue with one another, even having differences of opinion.
Despite (or is it because of) its face value absurdities, the narrative is engaging and plays on an inherent human desire to be valued and respected. When Tim discovers the reasons why the locals in Timchester practically worship the ground he walks on, the decisions he makes thereafter have both intended and unintended consequences. It flows together very well and has as much to say about the personal price of fame and fortune as it does about the pursuit of truth, in whatever form that may take. A briskly paced and curious play with a definitive fringe theatre feel.
Review by Chris Omaweng
An Abundance of Tims is, quite clearly, all about Tim. Tim recently became the hero of a small rural town. There was only one problem – it was completely by accident. Tonight, he tells his side of the story:
One man. Two audio speakers. Three Tims.
Join them as they attempt to uncover the truth in a tale of lies, celebrity and mistaken identity – that is, until it becomes hard to tell which Tim really is in control.
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Thursday 29th March and Friday 30th March 2018