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A CurtainUp London London Review
If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet

The most difficult part of this entire process, has been having to grapple with the question of whether or not ours is a way of life that is worthy of preservation.— George
If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet
Rafe Spall as Terry and Pandora Colin as Fiona
(Photo: Manuel Harlan)
The effects of bullying, neglect and even global warming are explored in Nick Payne's latest play If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet now showing at the Bush Theatre.

Anna, a 15 year old girl, is suspended from school for facing up to her enemies. With a father who is too wrapped up in his work and a mother seemingly too blinded by guilt to care for her, Anna (Ailish O'Connor) turns to her Uncle Terry (Rafe Spall) for guidance. However Uncle Terry has his own demons that get in the way leading them both on a path of heartache and isolation.

With a strong cast and some beautifully resonant dialogue from Payne that you immediately identify with, Josie Rourke's production is well directed and executed with some interesting moments of dramatic tension. Payne's ability to fluctuate a scene between hilarity and melancholy in an instant provokes a unique blend of emotion from its audience. The trauma Anna goes through in the play draws the deepest sympathy and reflection, largely due to the innocent and heart-warming performance from Ailish O'Connor as Anna.

Michael Begley provides a rather quirky performance as George, Anna's father, which initially baffles but becomes rather engaging and humorous. His inability to talk to his daughter about anything that actually matters is played to the extreme, culminating in a delightfully excruciating scene between father and daughter in an Indian restaurant. Pandora Colin creates a nicely passive and unaffected Fiona, Anna's mother, who seems to be in denial of the dangerous direction her family is going in.

Payne's most compelling creation in the play is Terry played by Rafe Spall. He is a very curious character who provides some of the most amusing moments of the piece. Terry's inability to stay in one place and his obsession with a girl from the past just scratches the surface of a very complex man. Spall's performance is very watchable and one that continually shifts from a nervous and excitable quality to sincere and sad.

Lucy Osborne's set design is aesthetically pleasing with a sky blue covering the entire auditorium and stage area but it is a little impractical and obstructive causing many scenes to be confined to a small section of the space. There were some brave and interesting choices to differentiate the various locations in the play but with the set being so brazen it becomes too much a part of the production and ultimately a bit of a distraction.

Josie Rourke's production does have its minor flaws and the technical elements are at times rather obtrusive but underneath the blue exterior and the countless light shades that dominate the space is a rather deep and dynamic play.

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If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet
Written by Nick Payne
Directed by Josie Rourke

With: Michael Begley, Pandora Colin, Ailish O'Connor, Rafe Spall
Design: Lucy Osborne
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick
Sound: Emma Laxton
Running time: One hour forty five minutes without an interval
Box Office: 020 8743 5050
Booking to 21st November 2009
Reviewed by Tim Newns based on 22nd October 2009 performance at The Bush Theatre, Shepherd's Bush Green, London W12 8QD (Tube: Shepherd's Bush)

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