WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE?: Finborough Theatre RUN TIME: 90 minutes (no interval)
WHEN?: Last night 26/1/19
In April Sheila Atim (pictured above) won the Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Olivier and tonight we’re in the front row at this 50-seater theatre above a pub to see her in a production of a new play she has also composed the music for.
- Read on for reasons including why this production deserves a transfer to a larger London venue
We’ve been to the Finborough once before and that was for a piece which very much benefited from the intimate setting and was enhanced no end by a focus on what we were hearing as well as seeing.
Atim won our 2017 Best Performance monsta for the Old Vic production of Girl From The North Country (see clip below) and we saw her play some of her compositions with Arthur Darvill at the same venue’s 200th birthday celebrations last year.
Time Is Love/Tiempo Es Amor was written and directed by Ché Walker, Atim’s former acting teacher who cast her in her debut role at the Globe in 2013.
It is set in Los Angeles and moves between 2016 and 2019 as we meet criminal Blaz (Gabriel Akuwudike, convincingly switching to rage at the slip of a remark) and his school sweetheart Havana (an insightful Jessica Ledon) as they come to terms with his incarceration.
Elsewhere, Blaz’s partner in crime Karl (Benjamin Cawley in full BFF worship mode), creepy policeman Seamus (a believable Cary Crankson), call girl Serena (Sasha Frost, injecting humour) and Havana’s confidant (Atim, who makes the most of the show’s most moving moment near its close) circle the central couple.
We felt the slips into Spanish detracted from the story’s thrust but Atim’s score, described by The Stage as ‘a collection of moods and soundscapes, skittering beats and sultry melodies’, always pulls us back and keeps us interested.
This is only the second theatre production she’s scored; the first was another Walker production, Doubt, a Parable at Southwark Playhouse, and it’s a discipline for which she displays huge talent.
The use of film, the evocative score and Atim’s shining presence are the best things to recommend this production and we can see it easily transferring to a larger London venue as a result.