Theatre Review: NIMBY at the Old Red Lion

Not in my back yard feeling runs high as a camp for ex-offenders sets up next to a dream home in NIMBY at the Old Red Lion pub theatre.

NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) is the tale of James and Bea, two ethically responsible thirty somethings.

They find the haven of their Grand-Design style self-build shattered by the news that their plot of land is part-owned by the recently deceased and bizarrely named George George. Mr George’s prolific range of offspring quickly come calling to claim their inheritance and set up an ex-offenders rehabilitation camp in James and Bea’s back yard.

Our perfect couple soon find their neat family home has become a playground for society’s undesirables.

There are some good performances on show - especially Kate Sichel as Meg and Laura Dalgleish as Sally - and the strong ensemble cast handle the fast-paced, wordy dialogue incredibly well.


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However there is not much here to sustain the play’s strong opening momentum, even at a reasonably swift running time of 75 minutes. The play is entitled Not In My Back Yard, and yet the lead protagonists make very little effort to resist the enforcement of George George’s implausible ownership rights, and spend the majority of the play quietly repeating their acquiescent liberal twaddle and allowing a cast of misfits to run riot in their home.

The writing is sharp and witty, and Stephenson has a strong grasp of contemporary idiom. There are also several laugh-out-loud moments. But it is hard to care much about the fate of either the middle class Nimbyists or the caricatured band of ne’er-do-wells, and it all feels a little bit predictable.

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* Showing at the Old Red Lion in St John Street, EC1, until Saturday, June 25.

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