The Time of Your Life
Saroyan hasn’t become a cottage industry as has Steinbeck, and The Time of Your Life has suffered some neglect. Why? For starters, it has 26 parts—trimmed a bit in this production—and we live in an era of cost-conscious, three-handers. And Saroyan’s mix of sentimentality, working-class optimism and colorful characterization has made the play a period piece. People talk like Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled detectives, who sprang from San Francisco in the same era. This waterfront tale, set in a bar, involves a longshoreman who’s also an intellectual; a directionless drunk who does noble deeds, repeatedly; and the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold.
This production features marvelous scenes by the several actors with professional backgrounds, including director Ed Claudio as fibbing “Kit Carson”; Anthony D’Juan as a wannabe comedian who can’t get a laugh; and Martin Lain as the wry bar owner, a character who undoubtedly served as a model for Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. When they’re on, this show earns a “Well Done” rating.
That level of execution isn’t always sustained by the less-experienced actors; they do fine, but we’re talking community theater.
Still, it’s a worthy show, and Claudio deserves credit for dusting off Saroyan’s script, which retains a lot of period charm. The better scenes will stay with you long after you have left the theater.