“This is gonna be bad. This is gonna be really bad.”
These are the first warning words of Tomorrow, and I don’t know about you, but I thrive off of low expectations, and walking into Tomorrow (the confusion never gets old!) was anything but anti-clima(c)tic—pun intended.
Tomorrow makes a strong impression even as its audience is first mysteriously let in, and our confusion upon entering the transformed space feels intentional. Hooks and Crooks’ inaugural show, created by Ryan Bommarito, Josh Johnston, Espoir Segbeaya, Heather Ellen Strain, Caite Clark, and Aurora Torok, converts the Freestanding Room into a kind of trash-filled neon cave. The space feels unnatural, dangerous and — fittingly— ill suited to sustaining human life. As the audience wanders in, most of us looking for the least awkward spot to stand, we are immediately confronted with a space that is both exciting and a little unwelcoming.
The Fringe is, above all else, a place for experimentation and this creation is daring, loud, inventive and hot—literally. Skip the sweater for this one.
Self-described as an “immersive transmutation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth as parable for climate change” Tomorrow is, well, exactly that. The discovery emerges in how Hooks and Crooks ties the two together in a not-so-petty pace, given the show’s 30 minute running time, and gives brand new meaning to “what’s done cannot be undone.”
This piece is, on many levels, clearly in the beginning of its developmental process, and the core idea could use some more fleshing out. The show will likely keep evolving during its run, and perhaps beyond the Fringe, and its collaborators may want to continue to revisit the central premise in order to find even more shape and meaning inside the engaging, yet chaotic madness of this show.
Tomorrow, beyond its daring conceptual undertaking, features impressive performances. The level of commitment to each character is commendable, almost startlingly so in such close quarters, and all actors get a chance to show off some solid verse skills — perhaps not so surprisingly, considering Josh Johnston and Ryan Bommarito have both worked at the Stratford Festival, and Espoir Segbeaya is currently studying at the National Theatre School. I particularly loved listening to Ryan Bommarito speak Shakespeare so beautifully, as he did last summer in Repercussion’s R&J, and would have loved to hear even more.
That said, as much as I would enjoy watching these three actors put on a full Shakespeare play, there is something refreshing and inspiring in seeing “classically” trained actors getting a chance to put their creativity, and in this case also quite a bit of ingenuity, to the test. Costumes, as well as the set, are made from plastic and other trash-like materials—including some especially great shorts, for the men—, buckets become instruments, and the show as a whole was, as I’ve mentioned, collectively created.
Despite some difficulty in coxing participation out of our specific audience, and some hesitation upon entering the space (as there are only a few actual seats available for the small 15 person capacity,) our audience eventually warmed up and found its most comfortable “watching performance art” positions. It is worth highlighting, as was helpfully if not briefly mentioned by the box office staff at the show, that this performance involves some audience participation, to a level that may be challenging to some, and at other times feels more like an art instillation than a play. At first, there is an impulse to wander around the space and take it in as one might at a museum. At least, until the Shakespeare starts—which immediately contextualizes us back in a theatre setting.
The collective uses some of Shakespeare’s most famous sections of the Scottish Play, as well as some scientific facts mixed in with what I assume is original writing, to draw a mostly-effective link between Macbeth’s self-interested madness and murderous act(s), which eventually lead to his inescapable demise, and our relationship to climate change. Although some of the metaphor can feel heavy handed, and the climate change facts are a little too bare-boned to make any real political statement, the premise works best at its subtlest, and when the actors draw not only on the violence of Macbeth’s need for power, but also on the inherent—and eerily relatable—shame and gnawing guilt that consumes the famous couple from denial into despair.
“WHO IT’S FOR”
This show is for the experienced Fringe attendees who are here for the experimental, immersive shows, and any theatre supporter who loves devised creations at various stages of development.
Hooks and Crooks presents “Tomorrow”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: May 31 – June 15, 2019
Venue: OFF B – Espace FreeStanding Room
4324 Saint-Laurent, Suite 300 Montréal, H2W 1Z3
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from this year’s fest on our Fringe page!