Tomorrow Is Not Promised is a raw and poetic projection of grief and loss, providing insight into the diverse writing of Tian Glasgow.
The auditorium was small, but well-attended to Glasgow’s second play, taking those watching on an ambiguous and relatable journey of loss after an earthquake… or a “life-shattering event” as Tian has suggested. It’s never made clear as to which it really is.
The unnamed protagonist was played by Davina Cole, with film and theatre credits in ‘Therapy Sessions’ and ‘The Crucible’. The audience follows as she narrates her way through her devastation. Three reoccurring characters, all played by Chisara Agor, interact with her, helping her to make sense of her grief.
Tian skirts around the ‘namelessness’ of the protagonist effortlessly, with the protagonist skipping over her name signing an email she’s reading aloud, with another thought. There is never a reason for her name to be spoken, and it flows so naturally.
Cole expresses her lines. She doesn’t say them – she expresses them. There is so much feeling behind them, as if they are breathing life into this character, and this character is a real person. It’s genuine, powerful, and heavy at times.
Agor is similarly impressive. Not only does she act through three separate roles, but controls the sound, music and lighting just off-stage, even singing and looping live. The music she plays is electric and jungle-like, playing into Tian’s hope of portraying an Afro-futuristic atmosphere.
The play’s location is never specified, with lines describing the location as simply “here”. This ambiguity of location should almost be unsettling, but it’s not. It instead makes the audience feel as if they understand – it’s familiar and kind of comforting, feeling like everyone in that room had been where these characters were, without knowing where that was.
The play is literally and metaphorically transparent, with a door, a phone and a letter as the only props. Tian is able to immerse his audience in a world where there are no physical walls; where people and houses are transparent; and where every line is poetic and dappled with a deeper meaning.
“Even a perfect circle is lacking.”
With a single, hanging door as set, the play is minimalistic, but not limited, focusing on colour, lighting, writing and music to keep the audience engaged. The protagonist wears yellow, a symbol of hope – something her character portrays as her main motive throughout her emotional performance. Her supporting characters wear green: symbols of growth, renewal and peace, which is where they ultimately lead the protagonist.
The play is short. It is approximately an hour long with no interval, and each set-up is dependent on the actors themselves. It’s clear that their change of scenery is never rushed. As Tian once said: “However long it takes for her [the protagonist] to change the hooks on the door on the night, is how long it will take her.”
The final monologue at the end of the play is poignant and true, tapping into, once again, relatability, feeding the audience with the universal understanding of grief and loss.
With relatable emotion, and a pinch of well-placed humour, Tian has created nothing short of a work of art.
Tomorrow Is Not Promised is next performing in Falmouth on 16/03/22. Tickets are available on New Slang Production’s website.