Review: NOT NOW, Finborough Theatre

A heartfelt new play from award winning writer David Ireland

By: Nov. 04, 2022
Review: NOT NOW, Finborough Theatre
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Review: NOT NOW, Finborough Theatre A table is set for breakfast. Jam and buttered toast sit patiently next to a freshly brewed cafetiere waiting to be sipped. Ceci Calf's set, like the play itself, is understated. But look closely and you'll see a gentle snapshot of a fractious family trying to heal its wounds from the past.

Award winning writer David Ireland's Not Now is a tender two-hander between Matthew Blaney's Matthew, a teenager auditioning for drama school in London, and his Uncle Ray, played by Stephen Kennedy, a middle-aged self-proclaimed loser who bonds with his nephew after the death of Matthew's father. At first, they are immiscible, separated across generational fault lines in their Irish identity. But as they whittle away at their external anxieties, they discover each other's earnest humanity as well as a family secret kept hidden until now.

Blaney and Kennedy's performances are nimble, linguistically ducking and diving between each other with Ireland's lucid writing. They have nowhere to hide. Director Max Elton strips the production of any theatricality. They are thrust in a tight space with audience either side; there is almost no sound or lighting design to accentuate their performances. It's uncompromisingly raw but delicately precise spanning only fifty minutes.

Despite the truncated length, Not Now is emotionally rich thanks to both performers stepping up to the plate to make every second count. Kennedy's Ray is oafish but tender, slowly unveiling vulnerability that he hides from the rest of his world. Blaney's Matthew on the other hand is skittish, bubbling both with nervousness for the Richard III audition and with adolescent angst. An inevitable clash ensues; the question of whether Mathew should perform a monologue from Richard III in an English accent or his native Northern Irish accent becomes the point of divergence.

Not Now unpretentiously unravels with organic poignancy. Heavier ideas about what it means to be Irish and British in Northern Island are left to speak for themselves. The dark shadow of The Troubles looms in the background like Banquo's ghost at the feast. But this is no grand banquet. It's just breakfast. That humble simplicity is as absorbing as it is endearing.

Not Now plays at Finborough Theatre until 26 November

Photo Credit: Lidia Crisafulli


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