Review: Then and Now (The Main, online)

The fourth play of five in The Main’s SOS (Stage on Screen) Festival, Colette Cullen’s Then and Now is an intriguing LGBTQIA+ drama performed on Zoom.

Fiona (Florence Russell) and Rachel (Megan Jarvie) are former lovers, now friends. When we first meet them Fiona is about to make a big decision about her current relationship.

What follows in Maya Shimmin’s production, scored by Valerie Perboni, is a glimpse into a marriage which has the same twists and turns as any other: it just happens to be two women.

Each scene is set at a different point in the relationship, as Rachel and Fiona talk out their differences and concerns and acknowledge big events.

One a workaholic, one who is a natural mum, the two do not always seem suited, but Russell and Jarvie bring a warmth to their roles which fleshes out their characters.

The premise is instantly recognisable: the flush of being in love turns to a quarrel on work-life balance; the insecurity about previous partners becomes the exhaustion of being parents who rarely have a moment alone.

Promotion image for Then and Now

Some moments are especially fine in their execution: the amusement around choosing a father for their baby; the tension of party planning; the couple’s different perspectives on carrying a child; the memories which turn out to be of someone else.

The settings, both inside and out, are very well chosen, although the sound balance in some scenes may require careful monitoring of the volume or wearing of headphones.

Overall, I enjoyed this production, which runs around 70 minutes. Cullen’s writing is sharp and her characters are interesting throughout.

Then and Now, presented by Here You Go Productions, is available for free on YouTube (with donations welcome) until 9 July. You can find the whole SOS Festival playlist here.

My thanks to Colette Cullen for inviting me to review her play.