Playing live for one night on Zoom,YouTube,and Facebook Live, Harpy Productions have assembled eight short pieces under the title of Like No Tomorrow.
A call out last month from producer Sophie Rivers brought these plays together under the general topic of ‘apocalypse’, and they are presented as part of the Thornhill Theatre Space Virtual Fringe Festival.
The plays consider survival, activity, a sense of normality, what has happened to life outside.
In There Are Two Wolves, by Miranda Barrett, there’s an unexploded bomb on the street, and stories are told between a pair of characters waiting for death whether it comes quick or slow.
In Holly Willoughby Is Dead, we are in 24 Hours Later territory, but KFC is the only building to survive, and there’s still light and sunshine above, in dreams. Michelle J Hughes pulls out the absurdity of the situation as well as genuine tension within the bunker.
The Music is an opening amuse-bouche, a monologue about what’s left, written and performed by Lata Nobes.
Rivers’s own contribution, The Apocalypse Kit, in which she also appears, is closer to world collapse, and perhaps sci-fi, as the concept of social influencing trumps survival – it is too long, though, with one character (Linda) who seems interesting, but her unique situation in the trio is quickly sidelined.
In Georgy Pleece’s Happy Doomsday To You a fire and brimstone prophet appears to influence repentance and revelation, but is he just a crank – and anyway, Primark is open again. This felt like a sketch which could stand further development if it was to work fully.
Fire, by Hannah Kennedy, is locked doors, damped-down emotions, man and woman, still OK, living their last few days, while the flames feel like summer outside. This was a powerful piece with as much unsaid as said, and it was over far too soon.
In Dire Straits, a blackly comic piece from Lin Robinson, a group existing together in the detritus at the end of the world talk about time, supplies, famine and focus, as a sacrifice is discussed for self-preservation, and a dark twist comes into play.
The Beginning of Everything is futuristic, set out in space, and four normal lifespans have passed. Monica Cross explores what happens if judgement day has been and gone, and what if it is possible to reset?
Few noticable Zoom glitches mean you soon forget you are watching people performing alone, in their own little boxes, and can concentrate on the writing, direction, and how the characters come to life. Not every piece is entirely successful, but there is enough here to make the anthology really work as a unit.
As a subject, an apocalypse whether by fire, climate change, a virus, or a world gone wild, clearly has immediate relevance, especially as a semi-lockdown does still exist. A voiceover in the final moments of Fire is the only way the separated actors can touch.
Issues such as shopping, technology, relationships, looting, cosplay, pop culture and storytelling run through this collection. Two hours of lockdown drama, pitched, planned and rehearsed in a matter of weeks, tightly performed and directed. Moments are captured, whether trivial or profound, long or short.
Thornhill Theatre Space continue their festival until 31 August.