Right Now at Ustinov Studio, Bath Theatre Royal

revnowalicegillesFRENCH-Canadian actress Catherine-Anne Toupin won awards for her play A Present, translated as Right Now and given its UK premiere at Bath’s Ustinov Studio until 19th March.

Michael Boyd’s direction, closely linked with Oliver Fenwick’s lighting design on Madeline Girling’s set, increases the dreamlike – sometimes nightmarish – essence of the story.

Running for 75 minutes without a break, in fragmented scenes, it may be the story of a young wife whose baby has died, mourning alone in her flat while her doctor husband buries his grief in long hours at work.

But it really is for every member of the audience to decide if this is a chron­ological narrative in which neigh­bours from the mirror-image flat over the hall have had co-incidental parenting experiences, and all, including the neighbours’ son Francois, are broken by the situation.
Or if it’s a dream.

revnowalicebenThe intense performances pull the audience into this maelstrom of naked emotion, where sex, violence, emotional cruelty and preferential treatment resound, performed on a floor eerily lit around the edges and a soundtrack that alters perception of volume.

Lindsey Campbell is Alice, first met asleep on the sofa when her husband Ben (Sean Biggerstaff) gets home late.

The following day a woman, Juliette, (Maureen Beattie) invites herself in, loudly praising the decor of the flat, and grabbing a photograph of Ben. Her aimless son Francois (Dyfan Dwyfor) apologises for her behaviour, but they invite themselves back and in the evening turn up with husband/ father Gilles (Guy Williams), a medical writer whose work Ben has followed. Soon the conversation turns to sex. All three neighbours speak at heightened volume.

So far so Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf meets Abigail’s Party. But it’s where it takes you from there that makes Right Now quite different from any play I have seen. A Present may give more clues that Right Now, but when IS now?

revnoworgyThe audience left in stunned silence, and a great deal to think about. It’s a remarkable play and an appetising start to the French Canadian season at the Ustinov.


Photographs by Simon Annand

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