JB Priestley’s Time and the Conways revived by Royal Lyceum and Dundee Rep
The play, directed by Jemima Levick, depicts a Yorkshire family at two points in the 20th century
An Inspector Calls may be JB Priestley’s most performed work but Time and the Conways is widely regarded as his best - and this year, it’s been revived in a co-production between the Royal Lyceum and Dundee Rep. One of Priestley’s ‘time plays’, it focuses on the ambitions of a Yorkshire family in 1919, before flashing forward 20 years to reveal how their lives have changed.
‘People ask me if it’s a bit like Downton Abbey,’ says director Jemima Levick, also co-artistic director of Dundee Rep. ‘It’s not - it’s much better than that. Priestley writes people really well, both men and women. His characters feel modern. It’s not Noel Coward, it’s not Terrence Rattigan - it’s not those emotionally detached, frozen characters that you feel are 100 million miles away from you. They feel modern, accessible and familiar.’
It’s now over 75 years since Time and the Conways was first performed, but for Levick, it’s these contemporary shades that make Priestley’s work so enduring. ‘There’s something really lovely about watching a story that’s still relevant to us but set in a time where there’s more of an order to things. Today, we’re always being told about how the world we live in is changing dramatically, in very doom-laden tones. That’s the world these characters are living in as well.’
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 9 Mar; Dundee Rep, Wed 1--Sat 30 Mar