Theatre

‘All in Good Time’ at VAULT Festival review – Executive function play is dire and dysfunctional

At least a free rubber duck is offered to audience members as compensation for what they are forced to endure. The Not-God Complex’s ADHD play, All In Good Time, is a waste of your time – and at one point, it knows it is.

The play is a research and development project backed by Arts Council England and the National Lottery, and it certainly presents itself as one – with its smattering of multiple narratives it’s hard for me to even tell you what the show is about. It reads as part time travel, part bland tale about a neurodivergent person’s journey around London (portrayed through amateur video clips on a projector screen), and part underwhelming party we can’t seem to escape from. We’re told this as clearly as possible in the production’s dry and repetitive dialogue from the outset: “we are celebrating”, they explain; “you know that we are celebrating”, they say. The truth is, we really don’t, and there’s little to celebrate here.

It soon becomes apparent through the theme of time that it’s a commentary on the difficulties with executive function in neurodivergent individuals – that is, cognitive abilities such as multitasking, attention, and retention. The issue, however, is that it struggles to settle on a single way in which to convey and express the neurodivergent mind. A lot of time is spent watching two Time Lords (Zoë Glen and Billie Grace) make their way offstage in a clunky robotic fashion before we’re introduced to a new time period. We play Catchphrase with Greek Gods at one point, and use said rubber ducks to vote for workers in the 70s to work harder (the latter a possible comment on the relationship between neurodivergence and productivity, but one which is very weakly implied if so).

If the time travel aspect isn’t jarring enough, then at one point the inexplicable chaos is paused for an informal conversation between Rebeka Dió (who otherwise plays the Time Traveller) and Zoë about scheduling titled ‘The Lost Hour’ – and it sure feels like one. Witty comments on the projected screen behind her (one of the rare times where they appear on cue and in time with the live dialogue) mock her elaborate info dumping, while Billie is all too happy walking off to get food and rest up.

At the end of the monologue, all three actors are more than fine to sit in silence and twiddle their thumbs for a few extra minutes. If the frustrating scene is designed to make us feel the same anguish those with ADHD feel at ‘wasted’ or ‘lost’ time, then it would have been far more impactful if it used its on-the-nose dialogue to point it out. They don’t, and so it instead presents itself as a frankly egregious and unforgivable waste of the audience’s time. The ‘lost hour’ is the time we spend watching a play which very much feels like it’s still in development rather than a complete, furnished production.

What’s equally infuriating is that there are all too brief smart ideas dotted around this production. The overwhelming nature of managing multiple tasks is presented relatively accessibly, with our main character working through a mental to-do list while finding rubber ducks hidden everywhere as she gets ready to go outside. Unfortunately, so much of All in Good Time is messy and incoherent, and while I suspect the company may contend that it was somewhat deliberate given ADHD’s traits, that’s no excuse for this production being so grating and tiresome, with a risk of reinforcing caricatures and stereotypes about the condition instead.

If only turning back time was actually possible…

All in Good Time is now playing at VAULT Festival until 27 January.


Photo: Katie Glen/The Not-God Complex.

Disclaimer: I was invited to watch ‘All in Good Time’ for free in exchange for a review of the performance as a member of the press. I did not receive payment for this article and all opinions stated above are honest and my own.

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