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Normally, speaking on the phone during a theatre show would result in some very angry glares from other audience members. Yet, in a year that has had to throw out the theatrical rule book, Out of Chaos have made a show that relies on you ignoring the traditional pre-show “please switch off your mobiles” announcement.
Over the last year, companies have had to continually find new ways of delivering content to their audiences. Is Now A Good Time? is the first over the phone performance I have experienced, but today’s show has left me hoping it’s not the last. Created by Adam Barnard, Laura Mugridge and Paul O’Mahony, Is Now a Good Time? tells the story of a workplace romance, all within the parameters of a telephone survey.
As the supposed survey volunteer, I am asked a list of random, bizarre questions, ranging from my opinion on pickles to my feelings towards a Jane Austen centric date. The variety of topics are naturally comical, but so cleverly used to inform the underlying storyline. My answers are seamlessly included in the piece. It makes for multiple moments where I am surprised by a twist in the story inspired by an answer I gave ten minutes before. The ability to balance a pre-existing storyline with the unpredictability of each audience member’s responses is a hard job, with the integrity of one element normally suffering for the sake of the other. I can only accredit this company’s ability to balance them so beautifully with their clear combination of imagination and ingenuity.
For a format that is totally reliant on one method of communication, the piece’s ability to deliver both comedy and sentimentality is quite simply unbelievable. It is 50 minutes of laughter and joy, leaving me very reluctant to hang up the phone. It’s a theatrical experience that feels truly special, with the performance’s conclusion leaving me with a genuine sense of gratitude that I have experienced this joyous show. Maybe I’m just a bit of a hopeless romantic, but this heartfelt show is an absolute gem.
It’s almost ridiculous how invested I am in the story of two fictional people that I’ve never even seen. I would happily stay on the phone for hours and hours, just to hear how their story panned out. Despite that, I am thankful for the time I did get to spend talking about everything, from lemon washing up liquid, to my most spontaneous memories. I promise, this will be the one phone survey you will actually want to take.
Is Now A Good Time? is touring until 24 May. For more information and tickets, visit Out of Chaos online.