There are days in which we wake up and life seems like something that happens to us rather than something we have under control. That is the world of “Tomorrow in the Battle,” a play directed by Visiting Assistant Professor Sally Wood. Three complex characters that form a love triangle show the audience their points of view regarding what is and what could have been. Anna, Simon and Jennifer – the characters, played by Christina Felonis ’17, Brennen Malone ’17 and Sukanya Shukla ’20 – are faced with the psychological threat that is living lives that do not correspond with their expectations. Each of them speaks to the public in monologues that occasionally overlap each other. No struggle is more real than the other and the overall feeling is powerlessness in face of chance and randomness. As audience, we feel the same. We are powerless in the face of a reality that is never fully our own.
In their monologues, the characters tell the story to the audience in the past tense. Each character tells what happened according to their subjectivity and the audience then can construct a storyline. All we know is that that the relationship between Anna and Simon is crumbling apart on multiple levels. We believe their words – no scene has actually happened. In real life we can look at each other, touch each other and talk to each other but we will never know what really goes on inside. Living a life in a monologue is oddly relatable, since many times we believe to be alone in the world.
This feeling of isolation that makes “Tomorrow in the Battle” so powerful. Existential threat permeates the play: there is nothing to hold onto. It is all a game of chance in which we can’t calculate the odds. Even the setting induces a vanishing state: one chair and three characters trapped in a white cube. “90% of nothing is better than nothing,” quoting from Anna, one of the central characters. As the parallel stories connect momentarily to each other, love changes, people change and characters feel under pressure at a multitude of situations. The very meaning of their personal realities is confronted with what they could have been under a slightly different situation. Had Simon stayed at home in the day he met Jennifer, “Tomorrow in the Battle” would be about another battle happening in another day.
The struggle of power in the play is very clear. Anna works for the Ministry of Defense and talks about missiles, Simon is a heart surgeon and Jennifer works for a finance company. The characters have missiles, money and someone’s heart on their hands. In their relationships too, they show what inhabits our unconscious minds: wanting to dominate or be dominated. There are days in which we want to conquer the world or to feel that someone’s life depends exclusively on us. There are other days when we just want to lean on and hear someone say that everything will be alright. “Tomorrow in the Battle” is as much about chance as it is about our society. At the same time that the characters are individualistic beings living inside their own monologues, they depend on each other’s approval.
After the audience leaves the doors of the Blackbox Theater, they lose the comfort of knowing what goes on inside someone else’s minds. Living, dying or loving goes back to being a game of chance in which all we can do is bet on how someone else thinks. Knowing that we are one step away from infinitely different lives is a source of tension. When one door opens, others close — and we never really know where we are going. We weep for what reality could have been and we cringe for how few steps we are from what we wished to be. All as soon as we leave the doors of Blackbox Theater. Had we not watched “Tomorrow in the Battle,” I can only imagine what could have happened.