Tuesday 15 November 2022

Theatre review: Not Now

When a planned revival of last year's Yes So I Said Yes fell through, the Finborough Theatre avoided going dark for a month by scheduling the London premiere of another David Ireland play, his recent short comedy Not Now. It's a story that almost feels like it could have been inspired by a running Twitter joke about Jonjo O'Neil's 2012 Richard III, as it opens with aspiring Belfast actor Matthew (Matthew Blaney) rehearsing the opening soliloquy, and trying not to pronounce the first word as "NOY." He's got up early to rehearse his speech because he's flying to London later in the day to audition for RADA, and he feels like he should deliver it in a laboured English accent he associates with classical performances of Shakespeare (he's also able-bodied but putting on an exaggerated hunchback and limp, so never mind it not getting him into drama school, he'd have been cancelled before his career even began.)

If he's unprepared it's because he's had other things on his mind - the previous day was his father's funeral, as we discover when his uncle Ray (Stephen Kennedy,) who stayed on the couch overnight in case he was needed, comes into the kitchen.

Against his will, Matthew finds himself with an audience for his speech, and one with a lot of strong opinions because Ray owns all the major Shakespeare movie adaptations on DVD, although he hasn't got round to watching them yet (and he doesn't want any spoilers.) As is a common theme in Ireland's plays, the largely comic chat between uncle and nephew doesn't just touch on some emotional moments, but also comes with some pretty dark revelations about how a seemingly well-adjusted family has deep scars caused by the Troubles. In the case of Matthew's late father there's revelations of a very direct effect on his life, but for Ray there's more quietly sad ways that growing up in that atmosphere led to alcoholism and missed opportunities.

At under an hour long, this is essentially a witty comic exchange with an occasional sad undertone. Max Elton's production leans on the chemistry between its cast, Kennedy providing a string of malapropisms and misnomers (the version of Richard III Ray owns is the one starring "you know, Gandalf, Sir Alan McKenna") to Blaney's baffled reactions. The family dynamic is positively sweet by Ireland's usually blackly comic standards, and despite the familiar reminders of the lasting damage of the Troubles, Not Now's overwhelming impression is of a likeable, entertaining comedy.

Not Now by David Ireland is booking until the 26th of November at the Finborough Theatre.

Running time: 55 minutes straight through.

Photo credit: Lidia Crisafulli.


  1. I am the performer in Odd Shaped Ball, a play you reviewed in 2016, and I have been attempting to contact you for over a year. Please remove all photos of me in this blog. I am a teacher and this is inappropriate content. There has been a serious safeguarding issue regarding me recently and your negligence has fuelled this. I have been contacting for over a year without reply. You are breaking the law by keeping this up in spite of my requests. Delete it NOW

    1. Are you the person who anonymously asked in a comment in the 2016 review for photos to be removed, then didn't reply when I asked which photos they actually were? In any case I've now taken the Odd Shaped Balls review offline.

      The 2016 review itself is no longer online, blogger appears to have taken it down without informing me, which I assume is something to do with this.