Pros: A highly original concept, explored through brilliant writing and exceptional performances.
Cons: Some moments are slightly out of line with the overriding tone. Some noise filters through from downstairs, but this is in keeping with the setting, so does not detract from the piece.
Whistlestop Theatre is offering an intimate and immersive experience above the Arts Theatre. Audiences are welcomed into host Clive’s flat as he and his guests prepare for the first ‘perfect day’ of the rumoured utopia, set to arrive – you’ve guessed it – tomorrow. This interesting concept invites a variety of possible interpretations. Personal, physical, societal and spiritual transformations are explored masterfully in Samuel Evans’ script, which is well-executed in a set of outstanding performances.
Tomorrow boasts some truly spectacular casting, to the extent that it seems unfair to commend the stand-out performances of Aaron Gordon as Clive and Hussina Raja as Lisa. Raja’s comic prowess is trumped only by her heart-breaking portrayal of hope in the face of tragedy, while Gordon’s earnest portrayal of mental illness aspires to find truth, not engender sympathy, allowing for more complex audience reactions. His total commitment and attention to detail earned my full investment immediately in the pre-set, when he meticulously straightens packets of crisps as the audience settles into their seats.
As I write this on International Women’s Day, I am delighted to be able to commend Samuel Evans on his ability to write so well for women. I was concerned that two female characters – Lisa and Norah – would remain a shallow double-act throughout, but am so glad I was proven wrong. Their individual hopes are revealed in two of the most stunning monologues I have seen in some time. Both women are strong characters and the few times they are less three-dimensional are more the result of society’s failings than Evans’. That said, I would still like to see Lisa and Norah’s first scenes developed further.
Aside from a few moments of unnecessary exposition, Tomorrow is characterised by the tantalisingly slow dripping of details into the plot, building new layers which shock and surprise, drawing audiences further into the reality of this most abstract situation. The timing of each new revelation feels absolutely right, which is a credit to the skilful construction of the script, and the atmosphere achieved by director Rebecca Hewitt.
For me, the weaker moments are those which prioritise entertainment over truth. These moments are rare in the play as a whole but they are not uncommon in the opening scenes. My main concern for the piece, however, is that its premise and format seemed too familiar. The classic scenario of guests arriving for a party is a great foundation for some incredible characters to emerge, hence its popularity as a dramatic exercise. To use this format therefore comes with a risk of seeming unoriginal. Fortunately, the concept of Tomorrow has such purpose, and the execution of it is so proficient, that Evans’ play truly sets itself apart.
The rise and fall in tone of the piece becomes a familiar pattern, yet also succeeds in building suspense. I won’t give anything more away, but I shall congratulate the company on a perfectly fitting conclusion, which left me in such deep thought that I missed my tube stop and proceeded to get on the wrong train home! If you are passionate about about emerging talent, and are willing to navigate uncharted regions of the London Underground, lost in thoughts provoked by highly stimulating theatre, then I cannot recommend Tomorrow enough.
Author: Samuel Evans
Director: Rebecca Hewitt
Producer: Whistlestop Theatre
Box Office: 020 7836 8463
Booking Link: https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/tomorrow/
Booking Until: 12 March 2016