JOYCE MCMILLAN on TOMORROW’S PARTIES at Tramway, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 12.10.13
4 stars ****
ON THURSDAY night at Tramway, in The Coming Storm, the legendary Sheffield-based group Forced Entertainment explored the persistent power of live action to disrupt narrative, even when the action itself is self-consciously silly. On Friday night, though, their latest show Tomorrow’s Parties – co-produced with half a dozen theatres across Europe – reverted to a stunningly simple narrative format, utterly dependent on the force of the writing, and the integrity of the double performance through which it is delivered.
So in Tomorrow’s Parties, two members of the company – Claire Marshall and Robin Arthur, in Glasgow – stand side by side on a plinth in everyday clothes, surrounded by a skein of bright fairground fairy-lights; and for 75 minutes, they talk and speculate, in short solo bursts of a few minutes each, about what things will be like, in the future.
In a sense, the show that results is hardly theatre. It’s more like a long collective meditation on where we stand at this moment in human history, and what might happen next – ever more advanced technology enabling us to live in ever more virtual worlds, a flight towards new planets, or a lurch back towards a world dominated by primitive plagues of war, famine and disease.
What’s undeniable about this show, though, is the superb quality of the writing, devised by director Tim Etchells and the company. The effect is like watching and hearing a mighty poem about the plight and possibilities of humanity, at the start of the third millennium; a kind of speculative and imaginative storytelling, beautiful, luminous, and infinitely thoughtful.