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Not Now, But Now
The Canal Café
4th August 2015

★★★★☆

Publicity image for Not Now, But Now

Photography provided by The Camden Fringe

If the situation was different, would you feel differently? What impact does circumstance have on our hearts, and is there such as concept as soulmates? Not Now, But Now was inspired by MFK Fisher's novel of the same name, although given the book's critical reception, it's an unusual thing to admit to. Let's just say playwright Penelope Faith's version comes out of this a lot better. Her protagonist, Cora (Katherine Rodden), jumps through time, loving and leaving men in her wake. She's confident, sexy and playful, a strong woman who knows what she wants and acts on impulse. Faith's three vignettes show the impact of fleeting relationships and flirtations on Cora.

Music star David (Daniel Collard) is a living stereotype: he believes he's God's gift to all womankind and is baffled whenever Cora denies him. Both individuals are strong-willed and unwilling to compromise, leading to a positively electric dynamic - neither will admit to needing the other, but they do want each other. Collard positively sizzles against Rodden - we've seen him sing and strum guitar before, but in these scenes, he exudes a potent magnetism that frankly we didn't think he could muster. Gentle music and lyrics by Collard himself add credibility to his role of this chart topper.

Benevolent wino Hugo (Collard) is the complete opposite to David. His dependency on Cora is clear: he worships her, and this other extreme does nothing to hold Cora's interest either. He adores her, but to Cora he is simply a plaything to pass the time with - for as long as she feels like hanging around that is. It's hard to call her cruel, given how open she is about her lack of attachment, callous maybe - Hugo hopes, but knows he'll never tame her.

Finally, we skip to another reality. Here Cora's object of affection is a scientist, Bowen (Daniel Collard), and she appears to be enamoured this time round. Despite being a whimsical wanderer, it's this less creative, less artsy type who manages to breaks her. However, does she genuinely love him? Is she capable of love? If she can't feel love, can she feel heartbreak?

Some of the changes between acts feel overlong, but thanks to director Anna Keeling, the action glides smoothly between scenes, with balanced pacing. She also manages to elicit what is by far the strongest performance I've ever seen from Collard and Rodden. Collard navigates three very different personae with ease, and Rodden comes crashing down from sensual siren to lost girl, in a devastating shift.

This is very much a traditional piece of theatre, with a slow-burning narrative arc. As far as Camden Fringe productions go, it's relatively tame, but not everyone wants something zany and out there. This is beautifully written and performed and as the title says, you should see it not now, but now. With only two shows left, don't assume like Cora you'll get another shot at grabbing hold of something important.

Not Now, But Now ran from 3rd to 4th August and runs from 10th to 11th August 2015 at the Canal Café, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Warwick Avenue (Bakerloo)



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