This show is certainly enjoyable and Amies and Clements are a formidable up-and-coming talent in the musical theatre world.
Tomorrow, Maybe is set in a busy commuter coffee shop and owned by Italian ex-pat Rosa. Rosa, played by Sylvia Medina, is the only constant in the show while the other six members of the cast rotate characters at the speed of light. Each with their own personal tragedies and triumphs, heart-wrenching moments and funny tidbits we are introduced to everyone from business men and women, to struggling actresses, nurses, travellers and parents. The cats bring all of these characters to life seamlessly, and while there’s hardly enough time to fall in love with individuals, the concept of all these lives strung together by the one constant of this café they all pass-through on one particular day, is endearingly familiar and touching. The stand out performance comes from Natalie Thorn in a series of characterisations hilarious, believable and loveable, with little story arcs that proved especially relatable. Some of the characters were a little over-stereotyped and the show seemed to suffer from being a little too on-the-nose at times, with songs spelling out concepts the audience are probably fairly familiar with. A particular gripe was the song Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus which is a fairly tired trope, and bashed the audience over the head a bit with obvious jokes. Respites from this literality came in the form of the local busker’s (Max Panks) song Little Boat, which was thoroughly enjoyable.
Despite this, what cannot go with being stated is this is a phenomenal score, especially for Fringe theatre. The orchestrations, and vocal arrangements are sublime. This was never more clear than the chorus numbers complaining about the commuter train. The cast held their own with the intricacies that such a triumph of a score brought, and the show was vocally, and instrumentally faultless.
The show is staged in a tiny box-room upstairs in C Nova. A five-piece band, full coffee counter, seven performers and the audience all manage to squeeze in somehow, much to my amazement. The director has made a bold decision to stage the show so close to the audience, I mean close is a given at the Fringe, but this really is very close. Action is set in any square centimetre available, with actors and audience members sharing coffee tables, and scenes occurring in the doorway. It certainly meets its objective of being immersive; sight-lines are certainly compromised, although I suppose that’s the trade-off the director wanted to make. I would argue it felt a little for the sake of it. That being said, there were moments of directing genius when it came to blocking and use of space, again, the song about the commuter train was visually hilarious and extremely well done.
Overall the piece is let down by a few key elements. The first, the literality, as mentioned above. The second, the whole show rests on Rosa’s shoulders, yet despite Medina’s beautiful voice her characterisation was consistently off. Her face never seemed to relay the same message coming out of her mouth and some serious work on this character is needed. Rosa is fairly one-dimensional, which doesn’t work because all the others characters being multi-rolled have to be one-dimensional to keep the story ticking-along. To combat this, and give the audience someone to really root for, and look forward to coming back to, Rosa’s character needs development. Third, the book of the show is nowhere near the quality of the music. It feels like a bit of an afterthought to connect songs rather than creativity in its own work. It has its moments of poignancy, but is a little stale. Ultimately, if this had been a song-cycle or a concert version this would be a hands down five-star show. Five stars wouldn’t have been enough. But a musical is more than a score, and while the book wasn’t dire it felt as if it merely served as a series of tenuous excuses to leap from one beautiful piece of music to another.
This show is certainly enjoyable and Amies and Clements are a formidable up-and-coming talent in the musical theatre world. The show should be seen if only for you to marvel at how absolutely unbelievable those harmonies are. The cast and creatives are clearly all very talented individuals and should be proud of the piece they’ve created.