By Sean BellPublished
1:15pm – 2:15pm, 31 Jul – 25 Aug, not 1 Aug, 12 Aug, The Assembly Rooms
The spectacle of past, present and future versions of a single person all shouting at each other is a conceit that will be familiar to any fan of Calvin & Hobbes. Nevertheless, Hindsight manages to make this well-worn time travel trope into something fresh and unpredictable.
A student with little in his life but his girlfriend, Rob (James Kirk) is preparing to propose when he is accosted by an aged, embittered version of himself (Raymond Mearns). Convinced that tragedy can only be averted if Rob’s relationship ends, his future self has travelled in time, baseball bat in hand, to change things for the better.
The first half of Hindsight is spent setting up the premise, while the second is spent gleefully tearing it apart. Unfortunately, the first half is also strained, tonally awkward and bereft of any real laughs. Both the humour and pathos only click when another, even older version of Rob appears (played with caustic charm by Paul Sneddon), and the play finally discovers how to have fun with itself.
One of the most refreshing aspects of the play is how it lightly touches upon the national character: while self-loathing is named-checked early on as a distinctly Caledonian neurosis, Robert has the capacity for great love and evil deeds, and it’s up to him to decide which course to follow – he controls his destiny. Taking this as a metaphor for Scotland at the crossroads might be an interpretation too far, but such symbolism would be to the play’s credit.