Thursday, 2 October 2008

Now or Later

Went to the Royal Court last night to see the wonderful Now or Later by Christopher Shinn.

The play is set in an American hotel on the eve of a sweeping Democratic election victory; but even as Ohio and Florida declare for Senator Roe (played by Matthew Marsh, looking uncannily like Howard Dean) his aides are negotiating furiously with his fragile Ivy league educated son (the superb Eddie Redmayne.)
John Jr's drunken antics, aimed at satiric protest, (dressing up as Mohammad and simulating sex with a friend dressed as Pastor Bob) have been caught on camera and the 'Islamophobic' images are virulent spreading across the Internet.
At first this set up appears trite, but Shinn gives us enough authentic character detail both to buy into the counter factual histories of the protagonists and to follow with some sense of inevitable dread the repercussions. Towards the end of the play the new President, minutes away from receiving the phone call from his defeated opponent and struggling to keep his son out of the press, receives news of riots breaking out in Pakistan.

It's a morality play in the strictest sense with John Jr, receiving increasingly high profile visits in his room - from two aides: Marc, a Jewish man and Tracy, a black woman versed in the civil rights struggles of the past, his Hilary-esque mother and in a final Oedipal battle his father.
Each of the vistors try and persuade John to issue a statement of regret to curtail the growing crisis - all this set against the fast moving back drop of a massively significant Democratic recapture of the White House.

It's a brilliant, timely, debate about ideologies, extremism, parenting, civil rights, freedom of speech and responsibility.
Now or Later's run has been extended until November 1st - which, of course, bangs the final performances right up against the Obama/McCain election on November 4th.
This is a very important and well made play.

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