I came to this show with that anticipation one has when you've absolutely loved a company's previous work. I was a huge fan of “Gym Party”, which may mean I came to this show with unreasonably high expectations.
Of course, they are two different shows & I shouldn't hold them up against each other. But, some of the themes & ideas followed similar lines, so perhaps they do stand up to comparison.
Both shows set out to challenge, both the performer & the audience, they looked at endurance, brutal honesty, exposing the performer(s) & making the audience feel complicit in what was going on in front of us. “Gym Party” hit all of the above perfectly, leading even to me as an audience member staging a quiet rebellion in my seat, refusing to vote on which member of the cast should be saved, whilst the others die!
“Tonight...” though undoubtedly had some fantastic moments, for instance the end “Dance” which was so much a test of endurance for Jess, the performer & due to the lighting & set design becoming the same for the audience – How long can you stare at a strobe before having to avert your eyes? - I also agree with Jac's words on the story of Tim's demise. For me that section was a curious case of getting drawn into a story despite the clear evidence to the contrary- Tim, the deceased, was sat right behind us in the tech box, alive & well. Jess even self administered eyedrops as fake tears before starting the story. But still I was drawn right in. I did feel the emotion of Jess processing what it would be like if she were to lose the person she loved. That was beautiful & painful.
These moments aside, I missed the real passion of their previous work. Though the audience were used as a device in the show, I felt safe & comfortable throughout. When Jess & Tim argued it felt well rehearsed, amusing, but ultimately lacked a truth & immediacy.
One of my fellow Chinwaggers made a comment about the piece feeling like a Stand Up Comedy show at points. I'd concur. I came away feeling I'd had fun, I'd enjoyed the show, but ultimately when I walked back out into the Chapter car park nothing had changed for me in my world.
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