Today Tonight Soon is a world-premiere post-apocalyptic play set on an island inhabited by the last women alive on earth, as they wait for the last living man on earth, staged as the sun sets on the devastatingly beautiful and unfortunately (for the sake of the storytelling) populated Loyola Beach. This production is site-specific, so there is no set or sound design, but the costumes, designed by Benjamin Mills, feature a delightfully modern cacophony of Steampunk and Regency dress.
Melanie Coffey’s dynamic worldbuilding places us on what was once a mountain before the waters boiled and drowned the rest of the earth. Two sisters in long white dresses run down to the beach after hearing alarms that signal the approach of a rowboat, which might, presumably carry, the last living man on Earth. In a wilful and impassioned performance by Laura Rojas, Lorelei proclaims herself to be the Jim Hawkins (of Treasure Island) to Eloise’s, Lizzie Bennet (of Pride and Prejudice)… Although, Eloise, played youthfully romantic by Co-Artistic director, Brandii Champagne, is truthfully more of a Lydia (Lizzie’s more idealistic younger sister).
The island women haven’t seen a man for more than a century. Their mother bred her children from an old and frozen vial of sperm, but now their supply is out. Lorelai and Eloise grew up on stories about the last man on Earth who would come to them on a rowboat and impregnate them, learning that their sole purpose is to continue the human race. But their mother changed her mind. Her dying wish was for Loelai and Eloise to steal last-man-on-earth’s boat and row far far away. Despite their mother’s additional new instruction to not have sex with this rowboat-man, Eloise still wants to seduce him. She daydreams about giving birth at sea and raising a baby girl with her sister. Here, Coffey crafts rich conflict as Lorelai asks, what if we don’t have kids, what if we let the human race die with us, because why would we have a son that is violent, as the father likely would be, and horrible as the human race had to be to destroy itself?
While climate change could undeniably make this apocalyptic world real one day, a few elements make me question their reality. The two young women say that they’ve never gone without food and water, they talk of satellites and computers without ever having interacted with them, and the ocean water which they were told their whole lives is so acidic it will melt their skin off at the touch, really isn’t that bad after all.
My little gay heart may be disheartened that this island, and perhaps the entire human population, exists here without a hint of even rumored sapphic indulgence, but I am nonetheless moved by the sisters’ love for one another. Eloise assures Loelei, “I couldn’t leave you even if I wanted to.”
Today Tonight Soon has closed, but this review seeks to amplify the work of am emerging theatre dedicated to new play development.
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Lorelei – Laura Rojas
Eloise – Brandii Champagne
Written by Melanie Coffey
Directed by Erin Sheets
Costume Design by Benjamin Mills
Stage Management by Haley Schroeck
Casting by Kevin Blair
BIAS ALERT: Laura Rojas is a colleague and collaborator.
Production Photo by Sam Rhiel