Review: Right Now Is A Comedy Of Very Bad Manners

Right Now, Bush Theatre ★★★★☆

Lettie Mckie
By Lettie Mckie Last edited 21 months ago
Review: Right Now Is A Comedy Of Very Bad Manners Right Now, Bush Theatre 4
The cast of Right Now directed by Michael Boy at Bush Theatre © Helen Murray

Dinner party comedies are a long established and entertaining part of any theatregoers life, but Bush Theatre's Right Now is no farce.

Written by Quebecois Catherine-Anne Toupin, and with a new translation by Chris Campbell, the play deliciously subverts the genre by allowing its characters to speak the unspeakable and indulge in their darkest desires in a comedy of very bad manners.

Ben (Sean Biggerstaff) and Alice (Lindsey Campbell) live in a spacious apartment that feels like a modernised version of a 1920s art deco mansion flat. Within two minutes, it's obvious they are suffering from the loss of a child.

Ben works long hours and Alice sits at home in her dressing gown all day, hearing the sounds of a baby crying in the next room. The neat but slightly sterile room is a pertinent environment for their weary existence with an air of stale privilege irresistibly reminiscent of many a Noel Coward set.

Their lives are shaken from this drab routine by the arrival of Juliette (Maureen Beattie), Gilles (Guy Williams) and their son François (Dyfan Dwyfor). Forceful, unabashed to the point of embarrassing and alarmingly free about their sexual desires, the oddball family cause absolute havoc in the lives of their neighbours — with hilarious results.

Beattie and Williams make a fantastically creepy double act as the older couple who fearlessly dare to tread where politeness intends you do not go.

They leave a whole heap of broken taboos in their wake from inviting themselves to dinner, boldly stating that they don't love their own son and outwardly showing a complete lack of desire for each other whilst flirting outrageously with their young hosts.

Things get even more pervy when Juliette asks Ben to look between her legs to see what colour knickers she is wearing and Gilles feels Alice up in the kitchen. Meanwhile Dwyfor's irritating, attention-seeking François eggs them on, desperate for a slice of the action himself.

The twist is that rather than being repulsed by these unorthodox advances both Ben and Alice respond with enthusiasm.

Darkly comic as it is Right Now plumbs the depths of some pretty heavy human experiences; grief, infidelity and our overwhelming need for sexual but also familial intimacy. The last 20 minutes are more than a little confusing yet saved by a thread of emotional honesty running through the whole piece.

Campbell's heartfelt performance as the vulnerable mother who blames herself for her child's death is particularly moving, allowing us to leave the cerebral twists and turns of the comedy behind and confront her grief full on.

Juliette, Gilles and François are an unlikely source of escape and gratification for Ben and Alice — but just who are this bizarre family and what do they want in return?

Right Now is on at Bush Theatre 7 Uxbridge Road W12 8JL until 16 April. Tickets £15-£20. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 31 March 2016