Review: TomorrowLove

by Lynn on December 6, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer


At The Aorta, 733 Mt. Pleasant Rd. Toronto, Ont.

Written by Rosamund Small
Directed by Mitchell Cushman
Scenic design by Anahita Dehbonehie
Lighting by Nick Blais
Costumes by Lindsay Daggar Junkin
Composition and sound by Richard Feren
Choreography by Robert Binet
Cast: Damien Atkins
Katherine Cullen
Paul Dunn
Amy Keating
Cyrus Lane
Mayko Nguyen
Oyin Oladejo
Anand Rajaram

TomorrowLove is a mammoth undertaking about love in the future and in the present in a way.

The Story. TomorrowLove is about love and relationships in many and various guises and pairings. The tagline for the show is “Fall in love with the future” but it could also be applicable to the present.

The Production. TomorrowLove is written by Rosamund Small, directed and developed by Mitchell Cushman and produced by Outside the March that does provocative theatre in site specific places. TomorrowLove takes place in a former funeral home on Mt. Pleasant Rd. The place is now called Aorta and is a kind of inside joke because the play is about stories of the heart, in other words, love.

It’s a mammoth undertaking because there are eight people in the cast—four men and four women–who are paired in various ways and can tell 15 possible stories depending on the pairing. The cast doesn’t know with whom they will be paired until the show starts and a random audience member makes the decision. So the cast has to learn all of the parts.

The cast of eight enter in pairs; it could be a man and woman or two men and two women. They dance and switch partners to a swirl of Richard Feren’s waltz music in an ever changing daisy chain. Initially they all seem happy and buoyant. As the music continues and each cast member passes by a partner they have had before, the buoyancy changes to confusion then concern.

A person enters holding glowing orb. An audience member decides to get up and press the orb thus stopping the music and the partner switching.

A cast member indicates to part of the audience to follow him/her to a room in the building for the first scene with another actor or actress. Chairs for the audience are provided for each scene in each room. When that first scene is finished we can decide which of the two actors to follow for the next scene and so on. Scenes happen all over the four stories of the Aorta. For those with ambulatory issues, by prior arrangement, the show can be performed in a space not requiring much movement or and stair climbing.

Generally four stories are told over the two hours of the show. For my experience two characters (Cyrus Lane and Damien Atkins) who happened to be men, talking about their rocky relationship; their hopes; their love for each other; their fears and their therapy in dealing with their issues

In another story a man and a woman (Cyrus Lane and Mayko Nguyen) meet after not seeing each other since university days. The man is now a dentist and his former schoolmate is now a successful notable woman. In school the woman was unremarkable. She talks about how she acquired the perfect face from a prototype for success through plastic surgery. It’s not to become beautiful but to become successful. The man wants that same face in order to be successful. The woman says that it’s not that easy and the process for being chosen for the new face is rigorous. The nature of success; artifice and emotions are explored.

A couple (two men—Cyrus Lane and Paul Dunn) in a long-term relationship express their love and apprehension of the future. One of them is sick. One buoys the other or at least tries to. It’s a story of love and sadness and resilience in its way.

Another couple (two men again-Cyrus Lane and Anand Rajaram) meet and bond on a date. One inserts a mirror inside himself to reflect onto his partner what he is thinking and feeling and the other person experiences it. Again there are shifting emotions of doubt, insecurity, inability to commit and regret.

As with all theatre, the audience has to suspend its disbelief and engage with the production. I did and have nothing but admiration for the actors I saw. I followed Cyrus Lane for the evening. He listens so hard with his being and his eyes. That leads me to do the same. He finds nuance and depth in his characters and his work is filled with all manner of emotions.

Mayko Nguyen plays the person with the face for success. She is almost without emotion as one would expect with an artificial aspect to her being. She is perky, charming, and without emotional variation I found—this is not a criticism of the actress—she’s terrific—it is an observation of the character, who is intriguing.

Anand Rajaram plays the person with the implanted mirror. He is flighty, purposefully awkward; not lucky in love and close to being unhinged. Lovely work.

Paul Dunn plays a caring partner who will lose his partner. It’s heartbreaking but interesting how these two men handle the impending ‘inevitability’.

It must have been mammoth for Mitchell Cushman to direct this. Putting it together was too.

Anahita Dehbonehie’s design for each room of the complex is a series of thin coloured stripes at various angles on the floor, walls and ceiling. Some stripes are parallel and some intersect, as people sometimes do to form relationships. I love the subtlety of it all.

One gets caught up in the swirl of Richard Feren’s lush music.

Comment. TomorrowLove is about love and stories of the heart in the future and I think in the present. So there are weird tweakings of a person’s physicality to find the best match: a mirror is inserted into the partner; or an operation to give you the perfect face for success.

And to make it even more complex, Rosamund Small has written it so that no character has a name and there are no pronouns to define the gender of the character. It’s just by chance I was watching two men in the first, third and fourth playlet and a man and a woman in the second. The pairing can be two men or two women or a man and a woman playing a scene.

If a character had a previous relationship and the person is named, the name can be generic: Lee or Morgan are two names mentioned, so again we can’t tell the gender of the participants.

Does it work? Can you believe that either a man or a woman would say those words? Yes, of course, if you are willing to give over to the experiment. We live in interesting times where gender is not rigidly set; where gender fluidity requires us to become more aware and sensitive to its existence.

TomorrowLove is a terrific accomplishment that is fascinating and it would be enticing to go back and see other pairings to see how the parts are interpreted with other partners.

Outside the March presents.

Opened: Nov. 23, 2016.
Saw it: Nov. 30, 2016.
Closes: Dec. 18, 2016.
Cast: 8, 4 men, 4 women.
Running Time: 2 hours.

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