World Enough and Time is a new play by talented and accomplished young writer Sarah Sigal that interweaves the stories of three independent women from three different eras – the English Civil War, the lead up to the Second World War and the present day. The Civil War scenes and the modern day scenes are performed by four members of the all-female cast playing different characters in each setting, while the pre-Second World War scenes are a monologue focusing on fashion journalist Pamela, played with great insight and charm by Rebecca Dunn.
While there are plenty of moments of satire and witty social commentary, the play is tragic overall, dealing in the end with the break down of female power either through submission to male-dominated political environments (the Civil War) or the male-oriented business world (the present day) or Pamela’s ambiguous liberation and connection with the glitterati and secret agents of 1930s Europe, a world that by her own admission she hardly understands and enjoys while feeling estranged from it.
The production is extremely watchable and thought-provoking with convincing performances throughout and a good sense of leaving it up to the audience to fathom the connections between these women, their interactions with the political situations they face and their own complex and evolving desires for independence and power in worlds that offer opportunities as well as pitfalls for the brave and the strong. Still, at times the characterisation slips into stereotype and exchanges between characters could be slicker, in places moving over emotional ground too abruptly or becoming distracted from the emotional charge of a scene with too much dialogue. Pamela’s monologue works by far the best in this respect because it brings the to-ings and fro-ings of her inner world to life and works mainly through suggestion; this of all the three settings is the one in which the audience has room to connect with the character through their own imagination and where Sigal’s skill as a writer shines forth most brightly.