With its abundance of large, medium, small and tiny theatres, Los Angeles is a hotbed of brilliant, original performance, with playwrights writing, producers producing and directors directing, supported by the best designers and technicians anywhere. If an actor wants to do a show, he or she can write themselves a solo performance piece, get a director—because every actor (and playwright) needs a director—hire a small venue and you are in business. After decamping from the Bay Area and moving to LA a year and a half ago, I have seen and reviewed one hundred and thirty-three shows, of which more than a few have been one-person wonders. Some have been written by others (Martha, currently at Whitefire Theatre, for example), but most are created by the performer. One or two scripts should have stayed in the drawer, but the rest are, at minimum, highly entertaining, many are excellent, and a few are brilliant in some way or another. Count Paul Linke’s It’s Time, now playing at Pacific Residence Theatre, among the latter.
This veteran Los Angeles performer, who found his métier as a theatre student at USC, has worked in theatre, film and television since 1970. His story really begins in 1968 when he signed up for an acting class and found his passion, a common story in the biz. But this show really isn’t about show business; it is a more personal story about his journey out of grief over the too-soon death of his beloved wife, whose passing left him with three young children and a struggling career.
Mr. Linke comes on stage with tremendous energy and a fast, non-stop delivery. With photos projected behind him, he roams the small PRT stage like a big cat as he expounds on the details of his life in the most personal of ways—his first scene in acting class, his sexual adventures as a student, and more. Then the pace slows a bit, as it must, when overwhelming grief wars with the exigencies of caring for his three children, two boys and a girl aged seven, four and eighteen months.
In the most affecting way, with deep emotion, great passion and surprisingly good humor, Mr. Link relates the tale of how he and his children get past the loss of a wife and mother to the safe haven of a new love that nurtures them all. The story of how he met, wooed and wed the beautiful actress, Christine Heely, is amazing, funny and terrifically touching. A tragedy turns into the triumph of enduring love and a completely new family situation. It is an extraordinary story told by a master monologist.
It’s Time, written and performed by Paul Linke, is directed by Edward Edwards, with scenic design by Lea Branuya, lights by Mike Reilly, costumes by Sara Figoten Wilson, and sound by Chip Bolcik.
It’s Time runs Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm through April 16 at Pacific Residence Theatre, 705-1/2 Venice Blvd. in Venice, California.