Timepiece: City Garage gets its stopwatch

Jeffrey Gardner and Renee Ulloa-McDonald in Timepiece at City Garage
Photo: Paul Rubenstein, courtesy City Garage

Charles Duncombe tries his hand at memento mori in the recently-opened Timepiece at City Garage. An attractive young woman looking forward to her future and all the usual accessories gets handed a left-turn at Albuquerque in the form of a clock that she can’t let go. This is a biological clock no doubt and since it’s handed to her by a top-hatted gent in whiteface (Jeffrey Gardner) we know that the endpoint is not little ones but The Final Curtain.

What follows is a brisk dialogue covering several of the stages of loss tweaking scientific reductionism, religion, and conventional morality as required. Whether afflicted nice girl Betty (Renee Ulloa-McDonald) is talking to five different characters or five different aspects of herself is an exercise for the viewer. Either reading applies but it wouldn’t be City Garage unless it were a hybrid. It’s a strong piece for the quartet of actresses – McDonald, Nili Rain Segal, Megan Kim, and Katrina Nelson under Frederique Michel’s direction. Nelson especially stands out as a once-optimistic woman turned jittery and bitter after a slide down the razor-blade of life. Other aspects of the script and production don’t fare as well confusing volume for substance. Humorous props, slapstick, and sight-gags maintain a mostly light touch over the heavy subject matter. One wonders further if there’s any autobiographical impulse behind this story.

Timepiece is a good introduction to the Garage’s m.o. for the curious. It walks the middle ground between Opheliamachine and When the Rain Stops Falling while preserving the design elements, movement, and sociopolitical focus for which Michel and Duncombe are known. And unlike the past couple of shows, this one landed bang-on the expected 90 minute running time on opening night.

“Timepiece”
January 23 – March 1, 2015
Fridays, Saturdays 8:00pm; Sundays 5:00pm
Admission: $25; Students w/ID & Seniors (65+): $20; Sundays “Pay-What-You-Can” (at the door only)
City Garage at Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Ave. Building T1
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets

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