Stephen House’s new play Borrowed Time is an intriguing black comedy about the lives of seven aging television celebrities reunited decades after their stars have faded.
Both playwright and director, House has gathered seven very experienced actors to tell the story of this gang of seven television actors who have been recalled to a casting room for reasons that are only gradually revealed.
Each actor reflects on their own life and tells their own story with finesse, recalling the heyday of their television show “Borrowed Time” (of the title) and their ensuing trials and tribulations after show finished. Old loves, squabbles, kindnesses and cruelties come to light. Herein lies the strength of the play - the skill of these actors as they look back, reflect and provide insights into their own lives.
This is no gentle stroll down memory lane. House has written a coarse black comedy in which the last 35 years have not been kind to any of these aging egotists. The result is a clever, but somewhat bleak perspective on these actors’ lives, the futility of glamour and the shallow nature of television.
Nevertheless the play is intriguing holding the audience in a period of uncertainty during which the current situation is not entirely clear, and the outcomes are postponed. It seems that everyone is on “borrowed time”.
In her third Stephen House play Jacqy Phillips gives a gritty performance as Glenda, who has sunk to depths unknown since the closure of the television series. She is pivotal in portraying the despair that comes as a result of feeling like a life has been wasted. Her multi-dimensional performance is mesmerizing. One moment she is sparring with her old rival Sheila (Chrissie Page) and the next she is showing great tenderness to the tragic Heaven, played wonderfully by Bridget Walters.
Profanities fly as old hurts, rivalries and sexual trysts bubble to the surface and Roger Newcombe, Anna Pike, Michael Baldwin and Wayne Anthony relish their roles. Each has brought a depth to their character that helps bring this bitter, despairing and sardonic script to life.
Many a play suffers when the playwright takes on the role of director, but this is not the case with Borrowed Time. House, and his crew, have made the most of The Bakehouse stage with a simple set, effective light and most of all a strong cast.
Professional Collective presents
Written and Directed by Stephen House
Venue: Bakehouse Theatre | 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Dates: Fri July 25 to Sat August 9
Times: Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8pm
Tickets: Adults $17; Concessions and groups of ten or more $12; Fringe Benefits $12