The Soho Theatre upstairs was crammed with people and an excited buzz was echoing around the room. It’s not hard to see why. If you’ve seen or even read anything about Made in China’s previous productions, you can’t help but enter the theatre expecting something daring and at the very least, entertaining. With Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me, you are not disappointed. Jess Latowicki stays in strong command of the stage as she acts as the sole performer for the most part; though for the first time, writer Tim Cowbury contributes to the show as a performer himself, though mostly from the lighting booth.
Latowicki narrates the tale of her and Tim’s relationship, though it is not a linear story. She moves from speaking to the audience to speaking to Tim, posing direct questions to the audience and moving into a more traditional narrative about different periods of time in their relationship. This is in between hypnotic dance and movement sequences which showcase Latowicki’s intensity as a performer and impressive physical endurance. You may still not know exactly what happens in this show, but don’t worry – that’s the idea.
The show explores Latowicki and Cowbury’s relationship, presenting the best and worst of it onstage with great frankness and courage. Though it is a performance and we all know there’s an element of embellishment and fiction, their ruthlessness in showcasing the problems and trials of their relationship is impressive and compelling.
Latowicki develops a connection with the audience that feeds into the script, playing cleverly with the idea of putting words in someone’s mouth. She transitions smoothly between narrating moments in their relationship to asking the audience questions, to speaking directly to Tim. Alex Fernandes’ lighting design and a piercing sound design by George Percy creates a sense of continuity and drama amidst this multiplicity of performance technique.
The movement sequences, choreographed by Irene Cioni, break up the text in a way that offers the audience a new engagement with the performance. The intensity of the dance is mesmerising and brings rawness to the performance. As in many of their other shows, Latowicki and Cowbury demonstrate great skill in writing and development of ideas while also embracing an experimental and exciting form.
The set, designed by Emma Bailey, and lighting and sound carefully weave themselves around this unique performance, serving the text seamlessly. Latowicki is captivating to watch and knows how to speak to an audience; engaging them but challenging them simultaneously. There’s both laughter and a sense of unease which stem from the same honesty that underlies the whole show. They are playing with the idea that everyone wants to be the hero of their own relationship and they do this cleverly textually and dramatically.
Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me is a sharp, funny and moving piece of theatre that exemplifies the best of Made In China. Using themselves as the story, they prove there’s no area too delicate to delve into, and find any number of universal ‘truths’ in their investigation. Between the vibrant performance by Latowicki, compelling text and choreography, it’s a show no one would want to miss.
Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me played at the Soho Theatre, 21 Dean St, London, UK from September 7-26, 2015.