The next two trips are connected to Harry Chapman’s play, but they are themselves part of perhaps the most dramatic event in About Time. Harry is Tim’s landlord, a past companion of Tim’s father, and a bitter and sarcastic person on nearly every subject.
For some unexplained reason, Tim does not go to see the opening of Harry’s play, but instead goes with “Dodgy Jay” to the restaurant Dans Le Noir, where meals are served (as you will have gathered if you understand a little French) in darkness, by blind waiters. They are seated with Joanna and Mary, whom they cannot see in the dark. Joanna is aggressively outgoing, Mary shy and self-deprecating. Tim manages to be quite funny, and the only embarrassing thing he does is put strawberry mousse in Mary’s eye in the darkness, which she laughs off as a new experience. They connect on the curb outside, where Mary puts her phone number in Tim’s phone while Joanna dumps Jay and drags her friend into a waiting cab. Tim returns home, that is, to Harry’s place, elated at finding such a wonderful girl who seems to like him, and finds Harry raving more than usual, because of the disaster that befell the theatrical debut of his new play.
It seems that the lead actor, in the midst of the critical final scene, completely forgot his lines for half an hour while the audience waited in silence. Harry anticipates that the forthcoming reviews will be entirely about the Alzheimer’s moment of a great actor–called “Sir Tom”, thus knighted–with nothing about the otherwise brilliant play.
Tim says he’ll see what he can do, which Harry derides, but soon Tim is standing in the doorway of Sir Tom’s dressing room suggesting to the ire of the actor that it might be worth a quick review of the lines in that difficult scene, which despite being offended by the suggestion Tom makes. He delivers the scene perfectly–only to have his co-star at that moment forget his own response. This time, though, Tim is in the audience, excuses himself, and suddenly is in the wings with large cue cards. The play is saved, Harry is complaining that Tim left during the best moment, and we are handed a significant collection of problems.
We already are not certain where he appears when he vanishes, which is compounded by the fact that his doppelganger is seated next to Harry in the audience and will have to remove himself well before the final scene to prepare the cue cards (find materials and a script and get in position) unless of course he simply vanishes, teleported to wherever Tim starts, which is just as problematic as well as inconsistent with the suntan lotion trip.
The same rule that prevents him from being in his seat in the theatre because he is preparing the cue cards also keeps him out of the restaurant, so that he is not meeting Mary. At this point we have the interesting detail, well-considered, that the memory in his phone has been erased–or more accurately, that the phone number Mary entered was never entered and thus is not in the phone’s memory. We are thus challenged with the question of why that meeting with Mary is not erased from his own mind, but the answer would seem to be that his memory traveled with him to the past, and his phone did not. Thus the phone to which he returns never went to the restaurant, but the mind which makes the trip with him does remember that, as well as being in the theatre at the same time temporally but later sequentially. At this point, the film must be commended for catching that detail, although in sooth the juxtaposition of the two events was an obviously intentional contrivance to create the phone number problem.
For Tim, the new problem is how to find Mary, without her number or her last name, and stymied by the fact that she never met him.