Review by Rosie Holmes
Its always exciting to visit a theatre I’ve never been to, and this week I did just that, with my very first show at Jermyn Street Theatre. A new play, and a co-production between the theatre itself and DONOTALIGHT, The Beautiful Future is Coming is a poignant look at climate crisis, across 250 years, deeply rooted in the humanity of all those affected.
The Beautiful Future is Coming explores 3 stories, rotating their time on stage, and sometimes playing out simultaneously. We meet Eunice, a 19th century woman in New York, a scientist who is battling against societal expectations of gender roles to have her work published and her voice heard. She suffers from a recurring dream, a man on fire, but struggles to make sense of it. In 2027, Claire and Dan, whose love of takeaway coffees and Friday night plans at a Simmons happy hour give them away as firmly in this decade, fall in love but also suffer the repercussions and heartache of a devastating climate-change tragedy. Thirdly, we meet researchers Ana and Malcolm in 2100 as they are trapped in unprecedented storms, waiting to be rescued, while Ana’s pregnancy continues to progress.
While the actress in each scenario is different, George Fletcher plays the male part in each, as the conversation segues between the scenarios with him. This serves to tie the scenes together, but also showcases what a versatile actor Fletcher really is. Just a subtle change in accent or mannerism and his character is completely changed. He is all at once wince-inducing as the supportive but inherently prejudiced nineteenth century husband, fizzing with new love in the 21stcentury and scared and anxious in an almost apocalyptic (not too distant) future. Sabrina Wu plays Eunice, conveying genuine frustration and fear. Martha Watson Allpress is Claire, full of awkwardness and light as she begins a new relationship, but also heartbreakingly sad and angry as the repercussions of climate change induced tragedy unfold. Pepter Lunkuse is the heavily pregnant Ana, who, in spite of the destructive weather and fear around her, ensures there is still hope, not only for her unborn baby but for the audience watching.
Writing is by Flora Wilson Brown, and direction by Harry Tennison. The two work together to provide a fast-paced and, surprisingly, often funny portrait of climate change over a few hundred years. Wilson Brown intertwines the devastation of climate change into thoroughly real portraits of humanity, some remarkably relatable, which only makes the tragic parts of the show more real and frightening. Its fast-paced nature means that literally not a second is wasted and 80 minutes fly by, although it does mean we miss out on a few details. For example, what was Eunice’s research? Yet Wilson Brown is clearly adept as writing thoroughly believable conversational script, that draws you into the world of its protagonists.
The play’s title is optimistic, and through the moments of devastation there is still an element of hope that runs through, particularly from the pregnant Ana as she hopes for a world in which her baby does not have to fear climate change induced tragedies. We also see the progression of women in science from Eunice’s inability to be published due to her gender, to Claire and Ana who are the bosses, managing the men alongside them. Littered with wit that keep the play fast-paced for much of its running time, The Beautiful Future is Coming is also an intense and thought provoking, fresh piece about the impact and possibility of climate change, that will certainly leave you thinking about the topic long after you leave the theatre.
The Beautiful Future is Coming plays at Jermyn Street Theatre until 5th February 2024, tickets are available here - https://www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/show/the-beautiful-future-is-coming/
Photos by Jack Sain