The Here and This and Now at Southwark Playhouse
Business is never easy, especially for sales reps. Although many can have a go at it, not everyone has the temperament to nail it. But, as one of the most repeated lines of The Here and This and Now tells us, “some things in life are more important than work”.
Niall (Simon Darwen) is the head of the pharmaceutical company McCabe, whose drugs no one really knows how to differentiate from the rest of the market. His job is to train the small team introducing the products to the surgeries around the country. Although the show runs interrupted for 90 minutes, it perfectly splits into two different parts, with a dramatic twist of events in the middle.
In the first half, all the characters try to pitch to a hypothetical senior practitioner’s secretary – a random audience member – each with a climax in the absurdity thus the hilarity of the conversation. These pitches range from the opening almost all-serious monologue of Niall, to the insecure and stammering attempt of Helen (Becci Gemmell), who completely fails the sale moment in an extremely funny way.
In between these speeches, though, low-lit and frenetic scenes of inexplicable games are inserted, anticipating the dark tone of the second part of the piece. The weak Helen is prepared to do everything, the worst of the actions, in order to save lives – those “everyday moments” the McCabe team was trying to sell at the beginning.
Balancing the tension and the humour, the play will strike the viewer for its perfectly flowing script. The actors deliver lively monologues, while the scenes where more people are involved slow down the pace to let the words stay with the audience. These are the points that reveal the futile workplace culture, brilliantly building to the upcoming tense sequence. The cast is tremendously compelling. Andy Rush is the first to gain the sympathy of the audience, and Gemmell gives a superb performance.
The Here and This and Now is a satirical reflection on the fake emotional side of marketing promotion. Beginning with ridiculous exchanges, it cunningly draws the attention to the human matter behind corporate people, to the relationships and to the real value of our hectic days.
The spartan set allows the production to focus on the interactions and the words. This original play takes a fresh and unexpected view over materialism and the human strength arising when the inept face pain and loss. Beyond the funny lines and the absurd conversations going on, the show leaves space for questions about a capitalist and money-driven society, as well as those irrational instincts no one in the end can really get rid of.
Photo: Theatre Royal Plymouth
The Here and This and Now is at Southwark Playhouse from 10th January until 10th February 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.