It’s a facet of human nature to look at our lives today, think about the future and dream of how different they could be. Whistle Stop Theatre’s current production, “Tomorrow” at the White Bear Theatre, takes these thoughts, hopes and dreams and lays them out for all to see.
Clive (Natey Jones) lives on the 15th floor of a tower block in Elephant & Castle and has problems. For reasons that we don’t know, he hasn’t left his flat for three years and has an obsessional attachment to a motorbike helmet. But, those problems are not going to dominate Clive’s life tonight because he is throwing a party. No, that is an understatement, Clive is throwing a PARTY, complete with a buffet from Lidl, for friends and neighbours as tonight is the eve of Tomorrow – a day that is going to be magical and transform the world. For good or ill, nobody knows, but it will change.
Clive has put fliers – or I guess his support worker has – through the doors of his neighbours in the block and Norah (Ava Charles) and her mother Barbie (Juliet Knight) – the matriarch of the estate – have come to join him to prepare for the tomorrow they all know is coming.
As the three of them celebrate the future, the party is joined by Norah’s boyfriend Wayne (Ben Tiramini) a loudmouthed, jack-the-lad who is pretty nasty in his relations with Clive for whom he seems to have no sympathy. After a couple of drinks, and some Bolivian marching powder, Wayne gets bored and persuades Norah and Barbie to leave the flat and see what’s happening on the streets teeming with people around them. Left alone, Clive has another visitor, young Billie (Niall McNamee) from the 17th Floor has also received Clive’s flier and not wanting to be alone on this special night come to join the party. Initially not sure who Billie is, a power cut enables the two lads to bond and, in a really touching scene, dream of the freedoms from their own forms of torture that Tomorrow is going to bring them.
It is difficult to go on with a description of the story without giving away any spoilers but suffice to say that Clive, Barbie, Norah, Wayne and Billie go through an intense journey together as the clock inexorably ticks away the minutes to the arrival of Tomorrow. Forbidden dreams, sounds of cheering or screaming, fireworks that aren’t what they seem, a magical garden and the reality of humanity all contribute to an evening that is as unforgettable as it is potentially life-changing.
Elephant and Castle is an area of London that is undergoing massive change. The introduction of new high-density apartments for sale to the highest bidder has meant not only an influx of ‘new people’ but also the slow loss of the real people of the Borough. In a few short years, all we will have to remember the ‘locals’ will be plays such as “Tomorrow”. Playwright Samuel Evans has managed to really capture the spirit of these people in his really authentic script and Directors Leah Cooper & Rebecca Hunt have a wonderful cast to bring the words to life. Every performance is stand-out in its own right and together, the cast work fantastically, interacting with each other so well, that you can almost forget this is a play – so many of the conversations were ones I hear every day walking through the shopping centre and underpasses in E&C. And this is one of the many things I really loved about the show as a whole – the believability of it along with the questions it raised in my mind.
Although it’s never mentioned when the play is set, my first thought was that it was that December 20th when there was a lot of excitement about the Mayan calendar running out and the world ending, but then I thought it can’t be. Clive would have had Christmas decorations up, so my next thought was that there was no special Tomorrow, it was all in Clive’s head and his friends were going along with it. Again, this couldn’t be right, someone like Wayne would never have indulged Clive’s fantasies. The more I pondered the matter, over a post-show glass of wine, the more I realised that it didn’t matter when ‘Tomorrow’ is set, as something special happened in Clive’s flat to everyone that night so when midnight moved the calendar forward by one day the, for want of a better word, ‘prophecy’ was fulfilled. The main catalyst for the changes was Billie, a complex character who went from being a terrified young boy with a truly horrible story to a confident man forcing the others to realise what had happened to themselves over the course of the evening. Again, I was left questioning, was Billie a saint – or an angel as someone suggested – or a horrible sinner struggling to control his inner demons and did it matter really?
I loved this production from the moment I entered to the theatre to see a very standard ‘affordable housing’ living room with a TV broadcasting alternate images of news stories around weird phenomena and vox-pops about what tomorrow would bring, all the way through to the final highly poignant and emotional moment between Wayne and Clive leading to an ending that had me reaching for a hanky to wipe away the tears. A simply marvelous production that delivers so much and holds its audience enthralled from start to finish.
Review by Terry Eastham
Tomorrow by Samuel Evans
Clive lives on an estate in Elephant and Castle. He is throwing the best Lidl buffet party in celebration of the perfect world that will come into place tomorrow. Invitations have been sent to friends and neighbours to come and celebrate. But, a stranger arrives, no one is eating the food and the outside world is beginning to change. The guests begin to question whether the “perfect tomorrow” can really exist on the 16th floor in a council flat. Whistlestop Theatre invite the audience to the party, and see if they would like to go where everyone else is headed…
A new play by Samuel Evans, and Whistlestop Theatre with Leah Cooper and Rebecca Hewett.
31st March to 11th April 2015
Tuesday to Saturday at 7.15pm,
Tickets: £14 (£10 concessions)
Box Office: 0844 8700 887
Friday 3rd April 2015