If you, like me at the moment, feel you are missing out on some of the familiar repetitiveness of life, this is thirty minutes you need to watch. The Time of Your Life is a short performance by Gecko theatre, created for Live From Television Centre, a live BBC Four broadcast in November 2015. The aim was to showcase independent UK-based theatre companies in short segments, and Gecko have now made their submission available to watch during lockdown. Although 2015 seems an age ago now, so does the day before yesterday, this snappy piece might just be the best theatre you watch in isolation.
The Time of Your Life follows Peter through a maze of rooms representing his whole life. The power of physical theatre and visual effects take both him and us on an extraordinary journey through the beautiful banality of existence. From parties, family dinners, weddings, funerals, work and graduations we witness Peter tumble from one suffocating event to the next without so much as a beat to savour the moment.
Unlike much of the theatre that we can watch online at the moment, this was designed to be filmed and it does make a difference. The studio is made up of several rooms and the camera chases Peter from set to set in one shot, meaning that the continuous circle of life is never-ending. The sets are seamlessly changed by actors as they dance to a Truman Show-like rhythm of Peter’s milestones. He sees his life as the film set it really is.
Gecko theatre specialises in physical movement, and that is very clear from this exhaustingly powerful half-hour. It is by no means a silent piece because the actors have lines throughout, but they are barely audible. It is as if someone had pressed the fast forward button on life and words of anger, disappointment, love and joy just blurred into one noiseless sound. There is also compelling music accompanying the narrative, turning the lovely family graduation into just another event in the machine of life for Peter.
I have never before truly appreciated the blinding power of physical theatre, but at a time when we are having to put things into different perspectives, this is a must-watch – it even incorporates plenty of PPE.