Natasha Ali reviews Lion Theatre Company’s ‘tuesday’, last seen earlier this year at Durham Drama Festival.
People like to say drama is life with all the boring bits cut out. But what happens when you ignore that? What happens when you create a play with all the boring bits blatantly left in? Does it make the dramatic parts better and or does it create a duller experience?
tuesday is a student written piece by Andrew Cowburn and was shown at Durham Drama Festival earlier this year. It follows Daniel, a regular enough teenager, as he comes home from school and proceeds to live out his life for the next forty five minutes. We meet his friend Sophie, listen to meaningless friendly banter and watch the missed calls from his dad get more and more frequent. Technically it should be boring. We spend a really long time just watching Daniel sit at home getting on with life and then an even longer time listening to Sophie’s random school drama in between the actual mystery of why Daniel isn’t taking his father’s calls.
It’s not boring though. The set design is well thought out, from what is being shown on Daniel’s laptop to literal crumbs on a table. There’s also something fascinating about watching someone who thinks that they’re alone and Jack Firoozandoes an excellent job of acting relaxed, as though he’s just finished a day of school. When Sophie enters, we get some very realistic and funny dialogue that’s entertaining to watch and adds some commentary on petty social issues.
Grace Longman does well as a talkative, bossy teenage girl. I wish she’d been given more to do because in the end her character felt more like a prop for Daniel to work off rather than serving any greater purpose. Jack Firoozan shines just as much in his intense breakdowns as he does in the more everyday actions (eg. getting embarrassed over a girl he likes).
It’s definitely a slow burn, which is fine as long as the climax is worth the wait. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough here. I didn’t know much about the characters. Sophie was criminally underutilised and while Daniel had a really interesting family dynamic, we barely get to explore it and I was left with way too many gaps to fill on my own for such a simple plot. It wasn’t as tight or well structured as I would have liked.
Weirdly, I think this story would have worked better as a short film or even a choice-based video game. It has a very ‘Life is Strange’ vibe with an awesome soundtrack and the majority of it being really mundane, making the outbursts of drama much more satisfying when they happen. I would’ve loved to learn more about these characters and explored outside of Daniel’s living room to see what their lives are like elsewhere. I would’ve loved to meet other characters and delve further into the mystery presented. Forty minutes just wasn’t enough time to properly complete the story that could be told here and a black box theatre didn’t lend itself well to the subtle way information was presented.
In the end, tuesday is high in potential and execution but lacking in substance. An entertaining, nostalgic watch and a great idea but not something that sits with you after it’s done, which is annoying because I think it could have been something really special.
Photograph: Sophie Wright