Review: Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me, New Wolsey Theatre, Pulse Festival

Tonight I'm Goin To Be Ther New Me, Pulse Festival, New Wolsey Theatre 2016

Tonight I'm Goin To Be Ther New Me, Pulse Festival, New Wolsey Theatre 2016 - Credit: Archant

For the first 10 minutes of Made in China’s ‘Tonight I’m Gonna Be the New Me’, its solo performer and co-creator, Jessica Latowicki undertakes a highly energetic dance/aerobic exercise routine. We don’t know who she is, what this dance means (rage/frustration/excitement?), or whether it will last for the entire 65 minutes (unlikely though given its energy). She then stops, faces us, smiles and says in a broad American accent that she is dedicating the dance to us. A slightly tense audience chuckles and visibly relaxes.

She proceeds to introduce her English boyfriend, Tim Cowbury (also co-creator and her partner in real life), who is sitting shyly in the wings, supposedly in charge of the lighting. We all look up and wave. What follows is an insightful performance about relationships. Young, giddy lust transforms into deep love, and then to domestic frustrations, disappointment, loss, and finally bereavement.

I’m not sure I was entirely on board the whole time. Just when I began to get a notion of what was happening and guessing what was to come next, it would change again. Another random dance, a fight, audience interaction.

But I think that was the idea. Just as relationships can take odd and unusual turns, can be sad and funny, unpredictable and confusing, this is all mirrored in the play.

Latowicki is a very natural performer, constantly teasing us to guess what was real and what wasn’t. Her pure physicality was a feat within itself and the final 5 minutes of spinning on the spot left her (understandably) visibly drained. Cowbury delivered his infrequent lines in a perfectly dry and understated way. The best interaction was the questioning between the pair during an argument, from Jess’s; “why do you only ever go up to 30% enthusiasm?” compared to Tim’s question “why do you talk so loud?”

This play was a strange mix of amusing, wacky, uncomfortable and poignant. It may not be the best show you’ll ever see, but it will certainly leave you thinking.

Naomi Gornall