On Borrowed Time
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jon McNally

On Borrowed Time, by Paul Osborne, is about how one man attempts to cheat death. It’s billed as a comedy and does bring a lot more laughter than tears, but the best comedies are rooted in deeper themes, and Walnut Creek’s Center Repertory Company’s production takes us on the meaningful journey of a small town midwestern family.

“It is a fable with a solid message about death and the cycle of living,” said Ed Sarafian who plays the part of Gramps. “Not like a Disney version, not that packaged. But it is interesting that Disney’s ‘Circle of Life’ and On Borrowed Time are saying essentially, the same thing. We don’t live forever, can’t change the laws of nature, and we had better do the best we can with the time we have.”

Gramps becomes aware of the immediacy of bringing up his grandson Pud (Joey Hauswirth) and keeping him away from the clutches of Pud’s prim and proper Aunt Demetria (Kerri Shawn) when Mr. Brink (Joe Bellan) comes to town. Mr. Brink, as the name suggests, is death, but he’s no grim reaper. In a bowler hat, plaid suit, and with a playful wink, he lets Gramps know that his time is up. Even though Gramps has a great sense of humor, he takes an immediate dislike to this jokester and finds a way to trap Brink. The trap itself is a practical joke and keeps the audience laughing. But it buys time for Gramps to be with his grandson.

The relationship between Gramps and Pud is endearing, as is Gramps’ relationship to his wife who he calls Miss Nellie. This is a great family story from a time in American history when the pace was slower. Or as Pat Parker (Miss Nellie) put it: “…it is a sweet, sad story that will touch people. I think that anytime you have a story about people trying their best, an audience is interested. We all want to do better, to live well and improve. Basically this is the story Osborne is telling: it is hard to let go when you see there are things still to be done.”

For tickets or more information call (925) 943-7469 or visit www.dlrca.org.

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