The Timekeeper’s premise is reminiscent of Richard Dawkins’ famous book, The Blind Watchmaker, a salvo against the idea of an intelligent designer. Liam (Jeff Webster) is a blind clock repairman with his own shop. He’s the sort of fellow every small town deserves: friendly, literate, an artisan. But his well-established state is not to last. Liam has Alzheimer’s, and his college professor son, Zach (Paul Hauck), comes home to care for him.
Zach’s romance with a local school teacher (ably played by Sandra McCord) adds a bit to the family drama, but the heart of this play is in its language. Local playwright (and proprietor of the Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre) Thomas M. Kelly has made a family game of quoting poetry and prose for Liam and his son—once again stressing the power of memory to create relationships—and adds, in addition to his own words, passages from the great works of the last two centuries.
The tension sags a bit at the beginning of the second act, mostly because we see less of Liam and more of Zach’s struggles to find his way as a caretaker. The use of blackouts to depict the passage of time was also a bit distracting, perhaps because the ever-present calendar onstage sufficed to place us in time.
Still, if ever there were an argument against an intelligent designer, it would be the tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease, which robs so many of their time. In Liam’s raging and weeping (which Webster manages to do without sinking into melodrama), it becomes clear that the theft of memory is far worse than death by a painful and slow disease. “My dream was to fix time,” he says, holding the works of a clock close to his chest, “fix it in a way that I did not lose it.”