What if? It’s a question we all like to ask at one time or another. It’s a game we often play. Sports Illustrated recently asked the question: What if you could draft a team using players from any era? What would such a team look like? These are generally fun activities that help pass a warm summer or cold winter evening.
Written in the style of a Shakespeare drama, Time’s Fancy invites the audience to suspend disbelief, and contemplate how things might have been with Henry and Joan as adversaries. It invites us into an alternative universe, one that follows the politics of love rather than the politics of fear.
One of the best things about the play is that it asks these questions without polemic.There are no sly references to modern tyrants, real or perceived. No commentaries on cyber revolutionaries. Instead we get a group of people dealing with questions of fear/love, war/peace, and power/weakness. Like any good play these questions are left open ended.
The show’s ability to put these questions forward and keep them there is helped out immensely by a strong cast. Kevin Klassen as King Henry and Charlene Van Buekenhout as Queen Katharine display much of the tensions of the plays themes in their on stage relationship.
Beverly Ndukwu as Joan of Arc brings a great deal of youthful energy and charisma to her role. She doesn’t over play the visionary aspects of Joan’s life, while displaying the poise and leadership one would expect of a woman who managed to rally most of France behind her.
The rest of the cast all perform multiple roles in the play. This allows for the story to be told fairly fully. The 100 years war was a complex and drawn out affair, but the sense of political intrigue that would be part of such a war is found here.
The sense that you are watching a Shakespearean play is helped along by Daina Leitold, Jodi Kristjanson, and Mel Marginet in their roles as Parles the fool, Nip, and Tuck. These jesters, though brief in their appearances, bring levity and lighten the tone of the entire show. There is also a twist courtesy of Parles that moves the plot of the show along quite nicely.
Despite being a Fringe show there is a lot of visual appeal to the play as well. This begins with an inventive set and great costumes.
The centerpiece of the set is a tall piece of metal sheeting that plays a role throughout the play. Along with this there are a several pieces of wood that are ingeniously reconfigured at the beginning of each act to declare the setting of the action. This is one of the most creative sets I’ve seen in any play. Kudos to the set designers, choreographer and performers for making such a fine use of the set.
In addition to great dialogue, there is also plenty of action in this play. Included among that is some broad sword fighting. Several of the performers also wear chain mail at various times in the play. That’s not something you get to see every day.
The play runs 90 minutes, but director Friesen keeps a crisp and steady tempo throughout, so that the play never lags. The crowd was pretty good for a late afternoon show, but this show should be sold out each day. I recommend you put Time’s Fancy on your list of shows to see before the end of this week.