Sign of the Times

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Peviewed 7 March 2011, Opened 11 March 2011, Closed 2 April 2011 at the Duchess Theatre

Tim Firth's new comedy Sign of the Times in London starring Matthew Kelly and Gerard Kearns

Frank Tollit has put up giant letters on the sides of buildings for over twenty-five years. From forty-foot yellow IKEAs to five-foot red COMETs, Frank's done them all. But in his heart, he's always yearned to work with smaller letters... novels... spy novels. Stories of unexpected encounters in dangerous places, disasters, treachery and daring rescues. However, a lifelong lack of success is driving Frank to the edge. Not even in one of his wildest plots could Frank have dreamed that salvation would turn up in the shape of a clumsy young teenager. Sign of the Times is a heart-warming, human comedy about finding happiness in unpredictable times.

The cast for Sign of the Times in London stars Matthew Kelly as 'Frank Tollit' along with Gerard Kearns as 'Alan'. The production is directed by Peter Wilson with designs by Morgan Large, lighting by Tony Simpson and sound by Gareth Owen.

"Matthew Kelly gives us a tender and comic picture of a middle-aged man floundering in the desert of a job. His natural timing gave the edge to some of his best lines... Gerard Kearns, as Alan, is particularly effective in the second act, which takes place five years later, when roles are reversed. He is a trainee manager and Frank, having been made redundant after 35 years, is seeking work. The two deliver a sharp double act in which Alan demonstrates the horrors of salesman-speak and Frank accidentally sets fire to the office. While the play has some fine moments, it is weak in detail which would flesh out both characters." The Daily Express

"With Calendar Girls, writer Tim Firth proved himself the master portrayer of a slightly simplified England, a well-meaning, gently witty place that overcomes deep sadness with tea-breaks and team spirit. There's more of the same, although on a much smaller scale, in this hard-to-dislike, harder-to-love two-hander about the changing world of work. Sign of the Times began 20 years ago as a one-act play and stretched now over two hours in Peter Wilson's pleasant production it looks over-extended." The London Evening Standard

"Tim Firth's comedy, which started life 20 years ago as a one-act divertissement in Scarborough, looks cruelly over-exposed here and Peter Wilson's direction does nothing to prevent the evening from becoming woefully under-powered... As Frank, an ageing installation engineer at a commercial lettering factory in the North who belatedly clocks that the writing is on the wall for his 35-year career, Matthew Kelly is, as ever, agreeably watchable. He towers in blue overalls over a clueless teenage intern - a serviceable but hardly sensational Gerard Kearns, best-known for playing Ian Gallagher in Shameless... The second-half switch finds the redundant Frank indoors and upstairs at an electrical superstore, this time as a trainee seeking induction from his former charge, who is now making a go of his career at the expense of his own artistic leanings. There are some neat lines but the dodgy wiring of Firth's low-wattage script becomes more apparent... The overall thrust of the piece - follow your heart, live the dream, down tools - feels trite." The Daily Telegraph

Sign of the Times in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 7 March 2011, opened on 11 March 2011 and closed on 2 April 2011 - was originally booking up to 28 May 2011.