Saturday, August 26, 2023



Tim. Adapted by Tim McGarry from the novel by Colleen McCullough. 

Directed by Darren Yap. Set designer James Browne. Costume designer. Lucy M Scott. Lighting designer Ben Hughes. Composer Max Lambert. Sound designer Zac Saric. Movement director Nigel Poulton. Associate Producer. Vanessa Wright Red Line Productions  Stage manager. Annette Rowlinson. ASM Kirsty Walker. Technical Manager Sam Rea. Christine Dunstan Productions The Q. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. August 25 – 27 2023. Bookings 62856290.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Valerie Bader as Joy. Julia Robertson as Dee. Ben Goss as Tim.
Akkshey Caplash as Nate and Andrew McFarlane as Ron in TIM

At the time of publication, Colleen McCullough’s Tim was considered quite controversial. It tells the story of a relationship between Tim (Ben Goss) a slightly intellectually impaired young man of 25 and an older woman Mary Horton (Jeanette Cronin), twenty-nine years Tim’s senior. Mary initially employs Tim as a gardener and their relationship burgeons into one of love. Playwright, Tim McGarry has skilfully adapted McCullough’s novel into a moving and absorbing 90 minute stage play with no interval. Director Darren Yap moves the action seamlessly through the scenes between Tim and Mary and the members of his family, maximising the use of James Browne’s revolve on his elegant touring set.

 Jeanette Cronin as Mary. Ben Goss as Tim in Tim

McGarry’s adaptation accompanied by Max Lambert’s evocative composition and sound designer Zac Saric’s use of classical compositions of Percy Grainger and Chopin to heighten the atmosphere provide a potency to the selected episodes in the family’s life. There is a heightened depth to the production that arouses an emotional response to the performances.  Ben Goss’s Tim is appealing in his naïve innocence and honest responses. Jeannette Cronin’s Mary Horton personifies the older single woman, bewildered by her feelings for Tim and perplexed by her predicament. There are excellent performances by every member of this company. As Tim’s mother and father Joy and Ron, Valerie Bader and Andrew McFarlane exude loving parental devotion to their son. They are honest, hard working and devoted parents who do the best they can for their intellectually impaired son. Tim’s younger sister, environmental lawyer Dee (Julia Robertson) demonstrates a deep sibling love for her brother but is threatened by Tim’s unusual relationship with an older woman. McGarry’s carefully selected scenes parallel Dee’s protective love for her brother with her bitter distrust of    Mary and Ron’s antagonism towards Dees’ artist boyfriend Nate (Akkshey Caplash).  

Yap directs an outstanding cast who in ninety minutes succeed in imbuing each character with depth and conviction. Cronin and Goss play Tim and Mary throughout while McFarlane also plays the head gardener Harry  with Caplash as his offsider Jim. Caplash also plays Mary’s former colleague Raj, who works as a carer and lends a pragmatic ear to Mary’s dilemma.  Bader provides comic relief and the wisdom of experience as Mary’s next door neighbour and straight talking confidante Emily. Their ability to transition so convincingly between characters is a masterclass in ensemble acting.  

 Christine Dunstan’s production has enormous heart. Yap and his actors embrace the spirit of McCullough’s characters. These are good people caught in an unusual circumstance. Times have moved on and acceptance is more widespread although bullying, prejudice and conformity still pervade contemporary attitudes. At its heart Tim is about love, a love that defies social norms and expectation, a love that grows from familiarity and reliance in the case of  Joy and Ron, a love between siblings Dee and Tim and a love that is unexpected and liberating in Mary’s case. McCullough was writing for a more generally conservative readership when Tim was published fifty years ago. However, Christine Dunstan’s creative team and excellent actors prove that McGarry’s adaptation of McCulloch’s 1974 novel still holds the power to move and enlighten. Don’t miss this touring production of Tim if it comes to a theatre near you.