This week in Theater
Written by Donald Freed
Tomorrow, has a seasoned cast and great support from a dream team of producers, unfortunately that’s not enough. Perhaps the play would have made a lot more sense if I was well versed in the Booth family’s emotional issues or their deep family history. However, I have never read any of the books on the family, especially the one that Jen Robbins (Laura) refers to throughout the story. The writer fails to tell the audience what was in the unauthorized book until the very end, and after 145 minutes, at least to me, it really didn’t matter because I had already figured out the ending.
Laura appears to be infatuated with the history of the Booth theatrical family, the Barrymore’s of their day, and she secretly worships Abigail after they were in a play together many years earlier. She contacts Abigail Booth (Salome Jens), who at the time of the play is 100 years old, in hopes that she could get some private coaching for an upcoming production of Macbeth.
Abigail lives with her nephew James (Geoffrey Forward) who has decided to close himself off from the world after a failed performance in Macbeth. Apparently, Abigail was also disappointed in her performance as Lady Macbeth. The family that plays together stays together comes to mind.
I wanted to yell at the stage, “Guys, it’s only a play. Get over it!”
Then we go into Macbeth rehearsals that turn into mini therapy sessions mixed with some method acting classes with Abigail leading the way and James as the catalyst. Things move on from there, but it just took its time.
One of the issues for me was the script; it lacked depth where I thought it was much needed. There is not enough background information on the Booth family (which I presume the audience is expected to know beyond the obvious notorious aspect) and their relationships. There is little information on Laura. Too much time was spent on the Macbeth rehearsals and not enough on the real story. Maybe all this was just a good look at theater lovers exploring there passion. At one point, I was excited when I thought they were just going to do Macbeth. Laura did a good job and listening to the breakdown from James was interesting as was the look at good Shakespeare training. The ending would have been more interesting if there was a little more to the revelation that came to James. He and Laura had good chemistry and I think that could have been explored. I mean this guy has been locked away with an old dominate women for years; one would think he would welcome a young woman who seemed so interested in him. Maybe I was seeking more then there was.
The pacing of the play seemed slow and dragged. It was sort of a Groundhog’s Day (the movie) experience. I kept drifting off and when I snapped back it was as if I didn’t miss anything.
Directionally, Damian Cruden made choices that were difficult for me to comprehend. The guest house they used for the classes with Laura had been unused for years and was a museum of family photos from productions and actors in their past. As the play came to an end I could understand packing the pictures but what happened after that just struck me as odd. Any more of an explanation would be a giveaway. Maybe I missed something important, perhaps it was just all a dream or the imagination of James or Laura, or maybe it was all just a ghost story. Beats me!
I was really disappointed; any production that runs over 90 minutes needs a lot of action or a deeper plot to keep me interested. This could have used some rapid fire dialog, which might have shortened it. Tomorrow is a world premiere and I think it has potential but it needs some good editing. It’s just too long. The pacing might get better as it runs. Stephanie Kerley Schwartz does a nice job on the stage set and the photos on the wall are a fabulous walk in time so take a minute to check them out at the intermission.
Writer: Donald Freed
Director: Damian Cruden
Cast: Salome Jens, Geoffery Forward, Jen Robbins
A collaboration, The Skylight Theater Company, Rogue Machine and York Theater Royal ( UK)
Friday, Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 2 pm until April 21st
The Skylight Theater 1816 ½ N. Vermont LA, 90027