The Here and This and Now

Glenn Waldron
Theatre Royal Plymouth
Southwark Playhouse

Simon Darwen as Niall and Becci Gemmell as Helen Credit: Steve Tenner
Tala Gouveia as Gemma Credit: Steve Tenner
Andy Rush as Robbie Credit: Steve Tenner

Captivate your target and close in for the kill.

That has to be your purpose if your livelihood depends on a sale. But, as Glen Waldron’s play The Here and This and Now shows, this approach can have unfortunate consequences even for those who do it well.

Niall does it well.

He’s the lead demonstrator of the technique at a McCabe’s pharmaceutical company training day which opens the show. Talking warmly to an unseen woman about missing off work so he can take his son Jack recovering from an illness to Diggerland, he explains that the child loves tractors and some things are more important than work.

Having engaged the sympathies of his listener, he gets her to book him just five minutes with a senior practitioner who might order their drug which he claims is 3.2% more affordable than anyone else's.

Other workers try the same sequence. Gemma (Tala Gouveia,) manages with a few stumbles to deliver something similar.

Robbie (Andy Rush) shifts between the expected script and deliberate excess. “I woke up with a corpse in cling film.” That’s a line that would certainly grab attention though perhaps not the right attention.

Helen (Becci Gemmell) is nervous. Her delivery is awkward and unintentionally funny. You could imagine any business reception reaching for the button that calls security.

The audience laughed not only at the absurdities of Robbie and Helen’s delivery but also at the vivid facial reactions to that delivery of Niall played with silky confidence by Simon Darwen.

Six years later, a devastating virus is sweeping the planet. It has already killed half the people listed in Helen’s address book and her son is showing symptoms of the virus. When she hears a rumour that McCabe’s pharmaceutical company has developed an effective antiviral drug that only the elite can access, she decides to pay its leading director Niall a visit.

The light comedy of the early part of the show turns into improbable melodrama in this later section. As Niall and Helen face each other, there is a lot at stake. They need to believe what each other is saying but Niall seems to forget how to speak or even the way to use his old sales tricks.

The play holds our attention and is well performed but its satiric bite is slight. Corporate sales practices and the priorities of the drugs companies are gently mocked but the humour is mostly affectionate and no drugs company executive is likely to raise an eyebrow.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna