1 April 2021

Now or Never Review

During the national lockdown's there been no theatre more innovative with its online streams than The Barn Theatre in Cirencester. Ryan Carter's recent Secret Society of Leading Ladies saw viewers being able to choose their own setlist from the on-screen options. The theatres latest production sees Ryan return as creative director on Now or Never, a new British song cycle written by Barn associate artist Matthew Harvey.

The ingenious thing about this performance is that it was streamed live from The Barn and shot in one continuous take. It's a creative decision of genius, this could have easily have been shot with cuts between each location but here the camera glides throughout various parts of the theatre building into each set for each performer. It was as much of a celebration of excellent theatre as well as a great showcase for The Barn Theatre building itself. 


Matthew Harvey in Now or Never. Photo by Jenya Steanson


Now or Never intertwines the story of 7 characters who are all living a world of global adversity. The performance began with Janie Dee playing a news presenter explainer the dire situation the world was in - masking the real-life situation we've all been living with this past year. You make an instant connection to the characters here because we've all felt those feelings they've felt this year.

Matthew Harvey's writing is magnificent, he perfectly captures the feeling and the mood with his lyrics and music. Freddie Tapner's musical supervision and the sound team make the songs sound even better. Each character gets a number, from a song about getting a load of dogs, the reflection of a breakup or a song about wanting to travel but time was running out with the final number sung by all 7 performers which had me reaching for the tissue box to dab the tears that were running down my face - lyrics like "hope will survive" really resonate with us all right now as we head to hopefully the end of the lockdown restrictions. Whilst this isn't a set in the COVID world we're living in it certainly parallels it.


Irvine Iqbal in Now or Never. Photo by Jenya Steanson

The assembled cast is sublime, Matthew himself, Katie Shearman, Lucy St Louis, Eloise Davies, Courtney Stapleton, Irvine Iqbal and Ahmed Hamad all deliver great vocal and the skill of acting through song. You get a little glimpse into the world and mind of each character. I'd have loved to learn more about each.

The show ran for around 40 minutes and certainly deserves a bright future. Matthew's writing and the whole creative team deserve all the plaudits. A timely celebration of life, theatre and the power of music.

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Now or Never was live-streamed from The Barn Theatre on Thursday 1st April. To learn more about the theatre and its productions visit https://barntheatre.org.uk/

Eloise Davies and Courtney Stapleton. Photo by Jenya Steanson

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