Storyhouse Theatre, Chester – until 28 May 2022
Guest reviewer: Jennifer Hughes
Directed by Joyce Branagh, Chester Storyhouse Theatre hosts the word premiere of Tim Firth’s brand new musical Now Is Good.
Jeff Rawle’s much loved Ray opens the show with a moving and poignant song, which seems a bizarre description of a lyric largely based around falling through a shed roof and fig rolls, yet it is moving and humorous in equal measure. Beautifully, he sings about his late wife while surrounded by broken timber, dust sheets and memories. A scene echoed by his Health and Safety guru son, Neil (Chris Hannon) towards the end of the play… but I won’t spoil that for you.
An old mahogany clock takes centre stage throughout the show, never changing in time, never moving forward, which echoes the sentiments of the largely ‘older’ characters in the play who sing about their frustrations with the internet, video calling and the modern obsession with the ‘Alexa’ lifestyle.
The ‘old and the new’ theme is not only portrayed through the refurbishing of the old high street bank into a new community hub, but depicted beautifully by the introduction of the Storyhouse Youth Theatre – playing characters from the nearby school, alongside their more mature fellow thespians. Working in education, I can honestly say that Alyce Liburd’s facial expressions as teacher Katy are on point.
In all, this play is something very different. It is laced with subtle morals, themes and messages. Celebrating life, tackling loneliness, being afraid to move on but yet offering hope and a sense of community over a fig roll and a sing song.