Sign of the Times – Reviews Round-up

A round-up of reviews for Sign of the Times at the Duchess Theatre in London

Matthew Kelley and Gerard Kearns in Sign of the Times
Matthew Kelley and Gerard Kearns in Sign of the Times

Tim Firth’s new play Sign of the Times has opened at the Duchess Theatre in London to decidedly mixed reviews.

The Calendar Girls author has written a comedy about a disillusioned sign erector whose life is changed by a clumsy teenager. The show stars Matthew Kelly and Shameless actor Gerard Kearns.

See reviews below from the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Stage and Express.

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Average rating score for this production


“[Firth] has a lovely turn of phrase and dry Yorkshire observation in the tradition of Priestley, Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood. But he’s not a jokesmith and the first act takes far too long to build.”
“Both players, I should say, are good; Kearns is very promising indeed. They deserve a better play.” - The Times
"it remains a desperately slight, whimsical piece that tries to get by on a few good jokes.” “although the two actors and director Peter Wilson put as much flesh on the piece as they can, I find the play's tone of feelgood sentimentality grating.” - The Guardian
“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. My admiration for [Matthew] Kelly remains undimmed but even his most ardent fans would be advised to divert their funds to Japanese earthquake survivors or Comic Relief, for here is neither time nor money well spent.” - The Telegraph
“Tim Firth’s Sign of the Times, first seen at Scarborough in 2006, could work as a gentle Radio 4 afternoon play to pass a long motorway drive. But as West End entertainment, its story of two men on the roof of a grim office in Batley falls seriously short.”
“Long-term unemployment now seems a far less appealing subject for soft satire than it might have been four years ago. And to my mind this is insufficiently biting, relevant or even meaningful for the contrasting fan bases of Kelly and Kearns to attend in sufficient numbers to see it light up WC2.” - The Stage
“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.”
“While the play has some fine moments, it is weak in detail which would flesh out both characters.” - The Express

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