Last look: Sign of the Times

Maybe it is the wrong time to be making light of long-term unemployment (particularly amongst those over fifty and those under twenty-five), but there was something both amusing and depressing about Tim Firth's Sign of the Times, which closed on Saturday night. It is a pity that it didn't find and audience, but maybe a play about unemployment, decline of industries, the loss of ambition or that hideous poster (opposite) just put people off. Well at least there was a respectable audience there to see it off the West End.

The play starts out as a story between Frank (Matthew Kelly), a veteran sign writer and Alan (Gerard Kearns), a work experience student. The tables are turned in the second half when three years later Frank finds himself unemployed and it is Alan who is climbing the executive junior deputy leader trainee at a large electrical superstore. The performances by Kelly and Kearns were funny and engaging and it is hard not to like a characters that wax lyrical about pita bread (always a favourite snack of mine).

The play is based on an earlier one act version of the play, which possibly explains how the two halves do not really gel with each other, and the temptation to leave at the end of the first half. Perhaps running the two together without an intermission and sending the punters home by 9pm so they can go home and think about their careers might work in future...

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