Barn Theatre At Home Streamed live 2 April
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
What would you do if the world was ending in 7 days? Matthew Harvey’s song cycle introduces seven characters and their reactions to impending doom. This may sound depressing, but Harvey’s creation is an uplifting and hopeful celebration of life.
Directed by Ryan Carter, the show is filmed in one shot with the camera operator moving through the corridors and stairs of the Barn Theatre to each performer. Opening with Matthew Harvey singing a fantastic upbeat number about finally fixing up an old motorbike and hitting the road – with a silent reveal about the bike’s legacy ramping up the emotions – we are then taken to Katie Shearman performing a more traditional musical theatre song full of wonderful comedy but eventually explaining her need to love and be loved as she takes the plunge and adopts a dog… or two.
Lucy St. Louis’s song is a stunner as she portrays the author of fantasy books about a powerful female warrior who is trying to find the words to write the perfect ending to give her character and herself peace and happiness. Courtney Stapleton and Eloise Davies’s sweet duet sees a couple who have been meticulously planning a trip realise that they have got caught up in the details and now just have to take a chance and go. The pace slows again with a beautiful song about lost love and regrets for lost opportunities performed with a haunting stillness by Irvine Iqbal before the camera takes us upstairs to Ahmed Hamad, dressed in official Zoom work outfit of business from the waist up. Even with the threat of the end of the world the mundane meetings continue and, after realising how much he has missed because of his dedication to his job, he finally bites the bullet and quits mid-meeting declaring there’s more to him than this.
The cast join together for the finale – full of hope and dignified defiance and building to a fabulous crescendo – it’s a showstopper and allows the fantastic vocals of the cast to blend and harmonise for the first time, creating something gorgeous and unbelievably emotive.
Hopefully, we’ll see more of Now Or Never in the future – its current form is perfect for these strange times, but I would love to be sitting in a full auditorium full of people sobbing after that finale.