REVIEW: Three Days’ Time
Justin Yang thinks Three Days’ Time is whip-smart, funny, and unmissable.
For anyone who has ever been exasperated by parental quirks during a visit home, Three Days’ Time is for you.
At the heart of Three Days’ Time is the strained relationship between Mary and Dee, mother and daughter. Dee has returned home to Ireland to bail her mother out of jail for some undisclosed crime while Mary seeks to return to her daily routines.
The two host a cadre of characters from the neighbourhood, including Liz, the new lesbian neighbour, Violet, the village gossip, and Lorna, Dee’s paternal grandmother. Over the course of three days, Mary and Dee bicker over the latter’s habit of nail-biting, the inalienable rights afforded to mothers for the task of childbearing, and the gap left by Mary’s recently deceased husband Gareth.
Three Days’ Time is clever and quirky, with an air of verisimilitude to which any student who has gone home after a term or two away at school can relate. Kate Reid‘s script moves quickly, compressing Dee’s three-day visit home into an hour-long exploration of the eternal conflict between mothers and daughters, the profound loss experienced by widows, and the way in which family bonds are inescapable.
The script provides serious meditation with ample comic relief, never failing to delight and always moving at a brisk pace.
Though the play is highly succinct, the acting truly shone through. Rose Reade as Dee is eminently relateable; anyone who has sought to escape one’s provincial hometown for the big city can understand the guilt associated with returning home after an extended absence.
As Dee returns to the rhythm of her life alongside her mother, Rose transforms her character from the horribly put-upon daughter to a woman who demonstrates deep empathy for her grieving mother, Mary.
Connie Dent is absolutely marvelous as Mary, Dee’s puritanical mother. Having been bailed out of jail by her daughter, Mary is sufficiently haughty and reticent about discussing her alleged crime. Though Connie initially portrays Mary as distant and somewhat cold, audience members became more empathetic as Connie superbly demonstrated Mary’s deep vulnerability as a recent window coming to grips with her loneliness.
Moreover, Mary’s struggle to understand the lifestyle of her new lesbian neighbour, Liz (Ella Duffy) is equal parts funny and poignant.
The cast of supporting characters each revealed more about the relationship between Dee and Mary. Dolores Carbonari as Violet, the village gossip, is hilarious as she constantly angles for the reason why Mary was jailed in the first place. She unknowingly (and amusingly) brings Dee and Mary together in solidarity against her, both of them being similarly annoyed by her unsubtle probing.
Ella Duffy as Liz, by contrast, serves to show the divergent attitudes towards homosexuality adopted by the urbane Dee and the deeply religious Mary. Ella is unperturbed by Mary’s ignorance while also bonding with Dee over copious amounts of whisky.
Guy Clark‘s Vicar Northridge deserves special mention as he delivers a pivotal speech during the play. Having begrudgingly attended religious service, Dee is made to realise by Northridge the extent of the silent suffering borne by Mary. In an extended monologue, Northridge highlights the fact that few things in life are the result of human choice other than the choice of one’s mate.
Though one cannot choose one’s parents or precisely decide the nature of one’s children, the choice of one’s partner is enormously important. Consequently, the death of one’s partner brings about an immense and silent grief. Dee, in this moment realising her mother’s loss, is struck and begins to understand Mary in a new and meaningful way.
Three Days’ Time is short and sweet. It meditates on the relationship between parents and children, the bonds of a family, and the ways in which we never truly leave home. Though Mary and Dee are reminded of all the things they hate about one another, they are brought together by the things they both love.