Writer Christopher Shinn, director Dominic Cooke and actors Matthew Marsh and Eddie Redmayne in discussion with the Royal Court’s Diversity Associate, Ola Animashawun.… Read more
The Royal Court Theatre presents
Now or Later ( Archived )
By Christopher Shinn
3 September - 1 November 2008
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
Tickets: £25, £18, £12. Mondays £10
"I don't think we should give up our values to find common ground.
Then it's not common ground, it's their ground and we're just standing on it"
Election night in the US, and things are looking rosy for the Democratic Party. Holed up in a hotel watching the results flood in are the likely President-elect, his wife, advisors and 20 year old son John Jnr. Every speech, interview and photocall has been carefully controlled and meticulously orchestrated, all leading up to this big night.
At the same time controversial photos of John Jnr are gathering momentum on the internet. Whilst his father’s advisors work against the clock on damage limitation, it’s up to father and son to try and reach an agreement.
Christopher Shinn’s searching new play examines religion, freedom of expression and personal responsibility. His previous plays include Dying City, Four, Where Do We Live and Other People.
Riveting. Thrillingly paced, effervescent with wit and intelligence and superbly acted. Urgent and unmissable.
— The Times
5 stars Independent, Paul Taylor, 12 September
Unmissable. Razor sharp wit and explosive canniness. Immaculately acted. Eddie Redmayne is superb. Matthew Marsh is equally as good.’
4 stars Daily Mail, Quentin Letts, 12 September
Redmayne is first-class.
Independent on Sunday, Kate Bassett, 14 September
Christopher Shinn’s play, set on the night of an American presidential election, is a potent examination of liberal credentials. Political theatre does not get much more topical than this.
What’s electrifying is how this peripheral nook rapidly turns into this really fraught hotspot as a scandal spreads like wild-fire on the internet. Now or Later is as potent as David Mamets Oleanna in its exposure of how liberal creeds can one way or another be murkily tied in with intolerance.
Shinn reworks diverse real-life headlines into a gripping dramatic knot. Dominic Cooke’s cast is terrifically sharp on ulterior motives and the treacherous ground between genuinely caring chats and political manoeuvres. The spiky intelligence of the arguments is riveting, and the ramifications become hugely scary all within the confines of a chamber piece.
4 stars Daily Telegraph, Charles Spencer, 13 September
Gripping and daring work brings passion to politics.
This is the play we have been waiting for a gripping, daring work that examines the Western response to Islamic fundamentalism and the threat to freedom of speech. The fact that the action is set, in tension-inducing real time, as the results come in on US election night, confirms the impression that Christopher Shinn, the American writer, has his finger firmly on both the political and the dramatic pulse of our times.
Its gripping stuff and John’s argument about the way liberals cravenly surrender to the demands of the radical Muslims pack a powerful and contentious dramatic punch.
The play also movingly shows how his parents political ambition damaged John’s childhood, and the climatic scene when father and son meet combines passionate personal and political debate with a powerful undertow of love, guilt, and regret. It’s a drama of rare ambition and bite. Eddie Redmayne endows the unhappy son with ferocious intelligence and raw pain, while Matthew Marsh, as the president elect and Nancy Crane as his robotic wife scarily suggest decent people who have sacrificed far too much to political ambition.
This is an electrifying world premiere at the Royal Court, and a big feather in the cap of its artistic director, Dominic Cooke, who directs with the sure touch of a man who knows hes backed a winner.
4 stars The Times, Sam Marlowe, 15 September
When does political compromise become hypocrisy? How much should moral responsibility impinge on free speech? These are two of the huge questions at the complex heart of the latest work by the sharp-minded and sensitive American writer Christopher Shinn. Playing out in real-time over 80 minutes, Now or Later, in a riveting production by Dominic Cooke, sets up some of the most urgent issues facing Western liberalism and lets them battle it out in the amphitheatre of a US presidential election. With Obama and McCains real contest for the Oval Office under way, it could not, of course, be more topical. But its brilliance lies in the way in which Shinn marries ideological debate to psychological complexity, shedding light, laser-bright and precise on the way in which political discourse informs and shapes individual experience.
Cooke’s production is thrillingly paced, effervescent with wit and intelligence and superbly acted, in particular by Eddie Redmayne as the unhappy divided John and Matthew Marsh as his father, his every word carefully weighed but concealing an unnerving ruthlessness and volatility. This is highly accomplished work, thrillingly connecting the intellectual with the visceral, the abstract with the human. Urgent and unmissable.’
4 stars Time Out, Caroline McGinn, 16 September
Extremely gripping. Cookes production triumphs.
Evening Standard, Nicholas de Jongh, 12 September
Provocative new play. Riveting. Eddie Redmayne gives an outstanding performance.
Guardian, Michael Billington, 12 September
Fine performances in Dominic Cooke’s urgent production.
4 stars Financial Times
Eddie Redmayne is beyond stellar.
The Observer, Susannah Clapp, 14 September
Only 70 minutes, and pungently written, it’s packed with debate. Its concerns could hardly be more current.
Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4, 13 September
Very good… very enjoyable. Eddie Redmayne is frighteningly good. The cast are astoundingly good. One of those plays that will generate a debate afterwards. I’d be surprised if it didn’t have some kind of theatrical afterlife.
Front Row, BBC Radio 4, 12 September
A very crisp, intense 80 minutes. A wonderful central performance from Eddie Redmayne. I enjoyed the quick-fire political dialogue – the West Wing element. Intensely topical, it just feels of-the-moment.