Review: Sign of success in spring play season’s finale

Chris Sheridan and John Goodrum in Sign o the Times at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfielld, from February 16 to 20.
Chris Sheridan and John Goodrum in Sign o the Times at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfielld, from February 16 to 20.

Award-winning playwright Tim Firth’s comedy Sign of the Times works well on so many levels.

Two tradesmen installing a neon sign on top of a roof is the in-your-face element.

But the play is more a statement of our times, of how a skilled loyal employee who has learned their trade on the job can lose his livelihood at a stroke and how difficult it can be to start over again.

The two-hander forms the finale of the Spring Play Season at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre this week and is directed by Karen Henson for Rumpus Theatre Company.

John Goodrum plays Frank, the know it-all Head Of Installation who has wisdom to impart, stories to share and whose knowledge of everything electrical masks a burning desire to be a famous author of spy novels.

Chris Sheridan is cast as his accident-prone, monosyllabic assistant Alan who would rather see his rock band’s name up in lights than fitting an illuminated sign for a firm.

The first half of the show is set outside a high-rise building as the two attempt to construct a sign improvising with the letters they have to cover for the ones which are missing.

Fast forward three years and it appears that a switch has been thrown as roles are reversed and the story continues indoors. Alan is now a trainee deputy manager spouting jargon and acronyms while Frank is on his first day of a training course and making a pig’s ear of it.

Sign of the Times may not be as well known or as heart-tugging as the playwright’s much-performed Calendar Girls but itspower engages viewers and lights up their faces with smiles.