Past present and future come together to warn us of our impending doom in a remarkably funny piece about climate, feminism and intimacy. This new play by Flora Wilson Brown might not leave you hopeful by the end, but is a nicely told piece of theatre.
Split across three different periods, from pre-civil war New York to dystopian Svalbard, we see three couples responding to the struggles of the time. In New York, in 1854, Eunice is desperate to get herself published in the scientific magazines, but the times are against her. In the modern day, Dan, the charismatic lover boy, is enjoying a flourishing romance with his ex-boss as he comes to terms with the new life in post-apocalyptic Britain. And finally, there is Malcolm and Ana (Pepter Lunkuse), who are isolated at a remote Arctic research post, Ana is on the verge of giving birth. The gimmick, for want of a better word, is that the men are all played by one actor, George Fletcher. Fletcher does a good job, is charismatic, has very good comedic timing and despite being a tad irritating, does carry the show. That being said, he is very much not the focus of the piece, it is the women and the world in which they are attempting to exist.
The writing of this piece is good, characters feel real and motivated, while a sense of something untoward and frustrating descends into the haze-filled theatre. The show slips sharply in and out of naturalism, oscillating between distinctly recognisable and comedically caricature. The world outside is somewhat the soul of the piece, each of the three stories tells of people struggling to survive in adverse environments. That being said, I found myself wondering where the show was going, it did not tread any new ground, or approach the material in a way that I had not already seen. As I left the theatre, I knew I agreed with the points made, but a little unsure of whether the show had made me question, rethink or explore things differently.
Visually, the show is perhaps more intriguing, using light and sound sparingly to provoke the environment and the world where something terrible sits on our doorstep.
The show is funny, it tells the story well, and while performances were unsteady to start with, found their feet and filled out into believable, well-rounded characters. I wanted the show to go further, to challenge us more as an audience and the provoke us a little.
Review by Tom Carter
1854. New York. Eunice sits in what will become Central Park and wonders if something is going horribly wrong.
2027. London. Clare falls in love as the streets begin to flood.
2100. Svalbard. Ana hears a baby crying in the seed vault.
The world is ending, sure. But what happens in between?
George Fletcher – JOHN/DAN/MALCOLM
Pepter Lunkuse – ANA
Martha Watson Allpress – CLAIRE
Sabrina Wu – EUNICE
Flora Wilson Brown – WRITER
Harry Tennison – DIRECTOR
The Beautiful Future Is Coming
BY FLORA WILSON BROWN.
DIRECTED BY HARRY TENNISON.
30 JANUARY – 5 FEBRUARY 2024