With the advent of Facebook and more of our lives being intertwined with the virtual world, many have opined about the lack of real friendships in the modern world. While writing about friendship isn’t an entirely new ground to plow, Serenbe Playhouse’s regional premiere production of Time Between Us feels fresh and presents a thought-provoking and heart-tugging journey of two friends.
While it draws comparisons to the television hit show Will and Grace, Time Between Us is much more than the sitcom based on the friendship between a gay male and his female best friend. Underneath the surface, the musical explores the depth of any friendship and the cruel grip that time and life can have on it. Gone are the stereotypical characters seen in popular culture. In their place are two characters anyone can relate to.
With music by Brett Schrier and book and lyrics by Tess Barker and Schrier, the story follows Morgan (Laura Floyd) and Matthew (Brian Clowdus) from college to 30 years in the future. Each one tries to balance their professional goals, love lives and their friendship; however, certain decisions have a lasting impact on their lives.
The show features unique and interesting music. What makes the musical presentation of the performance stunning, though, is the use of just a cellist and a keyboardist. The cello’s melodies accent the actions of the scenes and draw the audience deeper into the emotions of the characters.
Staged against the Serenbe Stables, Scott Heverling’s production design works well. Inside the stables, there is an illuminated tree, which changes colors to match the various scenes, and the windows become projected screens that provide a scenery backdrop as well as indicate the passage of time during the show. A simple stage with rustic scenery compliments the design.
Under the direction of Justin Anderson, the two-person cast of Floyd and Clowdus deliver strong performances as the two friends. As Morgan, Floyd creates a memorable and empathetic character, and her voice sounds gorgeous against the music as if the score were written just for her. She brings charisma and grace to the show. Likewise, Clowdus brings a school-boy charm to the role and displays vocal chops that match well with Floyd’s. Together, these two have a chemistry that adds a mesmerizing element to the production.
One of the best new works to grace an Atlanta Stage this season, Barker and Schrier’s new musical is one that will make you examine your own choices in life. The regional premiere of Time Between Us plays at Serenbe Playhouse through August 18. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s run time is a little over 90 minutes without an intermission.
– Kenny Norton