Our Share of Tomorrow is a heartfelt drama, written and directed by Dan Shearer, which is currently rounding out a national tour playing at Theatre503. With only one act and running to an hour’s duration, it has the feel of a fringe play and succeeds in telling an interesting story; though the overall presentation of the ideas is messy.
The plot sees Tom (Jot Davies), in his early 30s but acting a lot younger, visited at his boat in a coastal town by Cleo (Tamsin Joanna Kennard), who is only 15 but acting a lot older. Shared history involving Cleo’s deceased mother leads to an unravelling of long-held secrets on both sides. At the same time the play delves into the part-parental, part-uneasy friendship between Cleo and a much older man, delivery driver John (David Tarkenter).
Whilst over the course of an hour a coherent story is delivered, there are structural problems that undermine some of the potential emotional impact of the piece. Most prevalently, the story is wholly predictable, thus when the revelations come they are often heavily signposted and unsurprising. This is at odds with the Pinteresque pauses adopted by the actors during such moments that crush the pace under a lead weight.
Perhaps in an effort to present a linear story from a more daring angle, the chronology chops back and forth with each short scene. So as not to confuse the audience, a character will narrate the time and setting before each scene, which feels less like an interesting postmodern device and more like clunky exposition. The drama is played entirely with heightened angst, with no light or shade provided by humour, and even at a short duration this proves wearying. The pacing is often awry thanks to intrusive monologues where characters recount the contents of their dreams, tell bad jokes or burst into song; none of which serve much dramatic purpose.
The performances prove a mixed bag too. Tamsin Joanna Kennard is solid as Cleo, if rather po-faced; but she fares better than Jot Davies as Tom, whose other-worldliness can be mistaken for slowness, and he comes across a bit like a sedated Russell Brand. The standout performance is David Tarkenter as John, who provides some much-needed variety of tone and finds some humour in the piece. That you’re never quite sure whether or not to trust him or even like him is testament to his skill at characterisation.
The writing of Our Share of Tomorrow has the feel of good television soap, and audiences who enjoy that style of drama may find that the story resonates emotionally. It similarly uses shorthands such as a recurring playing in of Allegri’s Miserere to establish a melancholy mood. Music has its place in theatre, but it shouldn’t do the work of the writing for it, as it too often does in TV drama.
Overall, Our Share Tomorrow is a fair presentation of a good if well-trodden story. It would perhaps benefit from having more confidence in its core ideas instead of opting for a baroque approach to storytelling; and the emotional punches, which are undeniably affecting, would hit harder with more variation in tone and pace.