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Right Now review at Ustinov Studio, Bath – ‘unsettling’

The cast of Right Now at the Ustinov Studio, Bath. Photo: Simon Annand The cast of Right Now at the Ustinov Studio, Bath. Photo: Simon Annand

Right Now conjures up a scene of domestic bliss from the outset. Madeleine Girling’s set is a picture of affluent perfection, half home, half Farrow and Ball window display. Yet, this veneer lasts for all the time it takes paint to dry, as the façade of married serenity cracks and then shatters.

The breakdown of a housewife is not a new story, but in Catherine-Anne Toupin’s play, Alice’s rapid descent from normalcy to madness is augmented by an unsettling atmosphere and elements of the uncanny that complicate the central storyline, steering it towards Stepford territory and into the realm of the supernatural.

Lindsey Campbell is a convincingly manic presence as Alice, both frustrating and, at times, captivating to watch. The tension in the exchanges between her and husband Ben – played by Sean Biggerstaff – reaches its peak in a brutally thwarted seduction attempt. Guy Williams as Giles, one of three imposing neighbours who trigger the implosion of their marriage, plays a sexually predatory intellectual with an unnervingly measured expression.

Oliver Fenwick’s lighting, which artfully mimics the changing colours of the room, accurately recreates the hypersensitivity to surroundings that solitude and bereavement can bring. Alice is haunted by her own shadow and at times these shadows loom as large as the room itself.

The strongest moments in Michael Boyd’s production come when the breach between reality and delusion is at its subtlest. As with Nick Payne’s play, Constellations, it’s at its most successful when creating the feeling that all is normal on the surface yet underneath there are things which are awry.

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Verdict
Raw, often unsettling, depiction of bereavement and breakdown set against a background of domestic perfection
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