“Now is Good” review

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Making its world premiere at Storyhouse, “Now is Good’ is the new musical comedy by Frodsham born playwright Tim Firth. The play revolves around young at heart builder Ray (Jeff Rawle, alias Chester’s very own serial killer, Silas in Hollyoaks) who opens the play in a heap after crashing through a shed, and his son Health and Safety officer Neil , played by the likeable Chris Hannon. The Ray character is inspired by the writer’s father.

Father and son are renovating a closed down bank building and they are soon distracted from their work by the sprightly scooter riding Alice, the wistful Ted, as well as a group of children from a neighbouring school, (played by members of the Storyhouse youth theatre) and their teacher, Katy. With pre publicity focused on the senior comic character actors, Alyce Liburd stands out as the energetic teacher.

Elizabeth Counsel as Alice, Jeff Rawle as Ray
Ivy played by Michelle Dotrice. “Don’t get me started”

After half an hour the combative Ivy makes her debut , played by sitcom veteran Michelle Dotrice. Ivy gets all the best lines as rants against the trials of modern life including the internet, the place where “you can argue with tossers you’ve never met” Further comedy is provided by interplay with Neil’s virtual assistant . As the characters bond with the schoolchildren via mask making, singing and dancing, Jeff organises a medieval sports day using the accumulated junk he is fond of hoarding. Meanwhile a reflective Ted looks back at his life as the theme of nostalgia, false or true, circles around the characters.

The darker second half revolves around the keenly felt absence of one of the characters, with Neil stating ominously “I allowed something to happen that clearly shouldn’t”. However Tim Firth provides a happy ending as old and young join together to celebrate their late loved one and the eventual unexpected fate of the bank building is revealed. Neil realises he he must seize the day, shake off the past and fears of future:” If I’m alive my day is now“. Now is good…

Very little actually happens in this low key character led play, but the laughter flows readily from the interplay between the cast of characters, all of whom you want to be mates with. The apparent light tone, talk of frustrating video calls ,looking up symptoms’ on the internet , an axe wielding pensioner, and a mouse called Boris, are all bittersweet contrasts to the more serious theme of embracing life and your own inner child. Now is all we have. It’s fitting that the play debuts in a venue that prides itself on its role at the centre of the community.

Now is Good runs until 28 May

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