EFR - Reviews of Nowhere Now

Nowhere Now

Mon 15th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Becky Wilson

at 13:20 on 22nd Aug 2016

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‘Nowhere Now’ is, apparently, an absurdist comedy which purports to tackle the topics of international trade agreements and modern working life. Rather than dealing with these topics in any insightful– or, at the very least, comical – way, At Large Theatre Company instead use the ‘absurdist’ label as a license for frustratingly shallow incoherence. Questionable acting, mangled lines and unnerving bursts of physical theatre culminate in what is essentially an hour of self-indulgent drama school babble.

The show’s premise does, admittedly, have potential. There is certainly dramatic mileage in writer and director Daniel O’Brien’s vision of a post-apocalyptic consumerist nightmare, in which sleazy, manic capitalists preside over their infantile consumers. O’Brien’s script toys with the disturbing way in which the media, government and big businesses all feed off each other, spiralling into an irrepressible greed. This is conveyed through large pieces of nonsensical dialogue: long, garbled interjections of economics parlance, abrupt switches to TV interviews, shouting fits and creepily sexual massages between the co-conspirators at the top of the food chain. Unfortunately, the delivery is poor. Lines are lost due to poor projection, random accents are left unexplained (why is the Prime Minister American?) and the themes are dragged out for a painfully long time, without any development.

It is possible to detect some sense of order in the staging of this chaotic play: this can once again be attributed to O’Brien. He symbolically stages hierarchies, with the evil capitalist overlords remaining at an office desk, towering over the consumers, who lie on the floor with blankets and soft toys. I strongly dislike Ciaran Treanor and Grainne Curistan’s disturbing, ugly performances as adult-sized babies, crawling about the stage. It is difficult to judge whether this is a sign of acting talent or not. Though Darcy Donnellan undoubtedly commands the stage with her creepy sensuality, her acting is a little over-the-top. This contrasts with the stiff performances from Yalda Shahidi and Kate Cosgrave, as Minister and CEO respectively. Without a greater commitment to their roles, the play’s bizarre energy is completely lost.

The play also consists of irritating and unexplained gimmicks, which seem to contribute very little. Why, for instance, does the CEO freeze time? What is the meaning of the huge angel wings? And – most importantly - why does the production end with the characters sitting in the audience, watching and reacting to a projected slideshow of their own rehearsal photos?

Unless the deeper philosophical meaning of this production has gone completely over my head, ‘Nowhere Now’ is an overly-ambitious, largely nonsensical and deeply unpleasant piece of theatre. Though there are glimpses of potential in O’Brien’s premise, this show is poorly-acted and unfunny, with little substance beneath its rather ugly surface.

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Caragh Aylett

at 13:27 on 22nd Aug 2016

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With its bright pink flyers and comic tag line, ‘Nowhere Now’ lures me in from the beginning. At Large Theatre’s futuristic piece of theatre encapsulates ideas of consumerism and societal cleavage. It blurs the line between the haves and have nots and creates a nonsensical, manic piece of theatre. However, despite its huge ambitions, and its attempt at humour, it fails to clarify its points and clambers on the side of confusing and forgetful.

Two scenes work simultaneously. We are invited into the brutal working class world of Ciaran Treanor and Grainne Curistan which contrasts the government office of CEO (Kate Cosgrave), minister (Yalda Shahidi) and ambassador (Darcy Donnellen) and Noel Cahill. The idea is certainly thought-provoking, creating a political realism which mirrors the lives of those who make decisions and those who are affected by them. However, despite the high level of acting and physicality that comes from Treanor and Cahill, the others fail to match their ability.

In places Shahidi trips over her lines, diminishing her performance, while Cosgrave’s role as a seedy CEO only carries well in a couple of scenes; in others, her stage presence is completely lost. This diversity of acting abilities brings down the whole performance and causes it to be somewhat amateur.

While the idea for the piece is certainly very interesting, its execution fails. The interaction between the two worlds is inconsistent. This leads to a huge amount of confusion; why are they in the same place? Who are they? What is their relationship? These ends are not tied up, and the depth of the characters are left unexplored. This leads to a disruption in the narrative as the audience struggle to grasp meaning. Equally, the concept of a trade deal regarding beef is never fully unpacked and its idea comes across as childish and strange.

‘Nowhere Now’ creates a reflection on consumerism, the media and the complexities of society. However, it does not present these ideas efficiently and neither is the resulting performance memorable. The piece holds some exciting concepts, but these are never fully explored. It ultimately fails to deliver.

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