Review: Time

Tristan Bates Theatre
4 star rating
A great piece of theatre with some great performances. If it doesn't move on or make the big screen, it would be the biggest crime since the Great Train Robbery.
Time at the Tristan Bates Theatre

Image courtesy Tristan Bates Theatre

Show details

Show information

Closed here Saturday 15 February 2020

Cast and creatives


Fisherman - Daniel O'Reilly

Prozac - Paul Danan

Slips - Michael Head

Wardolf - David Schaal


Joe Withers
Michael Head


After the job goes south is the end nigh?

After a job goes sideways, four theives bounded by honour meet back at the place it all began, the local boozer.

Drink, drugs, jokes, reminising about old times and even politics, you would think this was a standard night in any South London drinking establishment however beneath the banter lies a dark secret that will test the loyalty of these four friends to the limit to see if there really is honour amougst theives.

Time questions the morality of crime and the people who dedicate their lives to the profession. 


Time is based on real people and true events, a play that really shows what makes the players of London's underworld Tick.  

Written by playwright of Worth A Flutter and The Greater Game, Michael Head.

ActDrop reviews

Jack Castle

Performance date: Wednesday 12 February 2020
Review star rating image

I will be very hones, - I am often the reluctant theatre goer.

Despite my theatre studies background I often prefer the Odeon to the West End.

However, last night I saw a simple yet enthralling play that has got me buzzing and wanting to tell the world about it.

Time is for me a very basic concept - four bank robbers meet in a pub after a failed job.

The start of the play sets out the relationships and, more importantly, boundaries of these four men.

We hear a number of stories of past jobs, past glories, past friendships.

These are apparently real stories and while I am not sure if this is true or a gimmick I do not believe it matters.

The performances of the actors, the gritty realness of the stories and the punch of the dialogue really makes you feel you know these men, they are real, they draw you in and they make you laugh, really laugh.

Some of the one liners, which were delivered perfectly, filled the theatre with laughter.

So ok, I know what Time is now about - it is a very good guy Ritchie film set on stage ... wrong!

As the show opens up it takes a dark turn, the tension between the characters becomes almost unbearable to watch and the drama unfolds before our eyes in a heart-breaking conclusion.

I cannot give much away without ruining the plot and the play, but I will say this: by the end I was sobbing in public for the first time since my father's funeral.

Time, on one level, is about the banter and jokes of four men in a pub - it just so happens that they rob banks and know the Krays.

But on another level it is about far more than that.

It is about the flawed human psyche, the relationship among four life-long friends who are bonded by honour in a world without honour, people who trust each other enough to pull-off an armed robbery, but don't trust each other enough to open up.

Most importantly, Time is about love and loss and the choices we all, as humans, make and the consequences of them.

Time was made by the amazing cast.

David Schaal was brilliant as Waldorf, the old headmaster of the group.

He managed to get the balance right to make Waldorf grumpy yet loveable, warm yet menacing.

At one point Waldorf turns and it was pulled-off with such brilliance I found it hard to watch.

Daniel O'Reilly shone as Fisherman, a cocky, flash court jester who clearly doesn't care about anyone or anything.

Despite these huge character flaws, he does well to get the audience on his side with his amazing ability to bring Fisherman's stories to life with the comic flair which is very fitting of Mr O'Reilly's stand-up background.

What maybe one is not expecting is the heart-breaking exit where Fisherman finally lays his cards on the table and opens up - and I will admit this was the first of many times that I cried and Mr O'Reilly does it so well that I wished I could have hugged him before his tragic exit.

Paul Danan is good as Prozac, the drug-filled outsider of the group.

Mr Danan plays the underdog well and strikes a fine balance between one of the lads and being the whipping boy.

One slight complaint would be the pace.

While Paul Danan clearly draws on his own background and life experience to bring this character to life perfectly, the slow slightly absent-minded nature of the character sometimes slows the pace of the piece and maybe some artistic license to make the character more compos mentis would benefit the play as a whole.

Finally, we have Michael Head as Slips who is the man that brings the firm together and the lynchpin of the play.

Mr Head is perfect as the boss under pressure, with a touch of Tony Soprano as he is trying to hold things together while he is falling apart at the seams.

He plays the role with wit, status and a threat that keeps us on edge.

Yet again, as with the other performances, there is a warm vulnerability that makes us essentially root for the bad guys!

Again, it is hard to comment without giving too much away, but the consequences of Slip's action lead the character into a bad situation and this is where Michael Head really opens up!

It's a performance as strong as any I have seen on screen or stage and there was not a dry eye in the house.

I was also impressed afterwards to find out that Michael Head wrote the play - one that is full of wit, emotions, layers and is clever - for my money, really clever.

It is not often I go to the theatre and really laugh and it is even rarer that I cry in public, but Time made me do both.

My only criticism is the direction which I felt was rather uninspired.

Given such a strong cast and rich text full of subtext and underlying themes, I felt the direction lacked imagination and failed to really get into these characters and explore the script fully.

The staging was also a little static which left me feeling slightly frustrated at what could have been.

I do feel that, given another run, Time could become a truly great play or even a film.

Overall, Time is a great piece of theatre with some great performances.

If it doesn't move on or make the big screen, it would be the biggest crime since the Great Train Robbery.

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