France has given the world many important contributions to arts and culture. Literature. Fashion. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Superior cheeses and wines. Voltaire. Cezanne. Proust.
And then they’ve given us Tomorrow’s Dawn.
Written and directed by Jeff Gallon with music by Fred Larrieu, Tomorrow’s Dawn is a new musical with a synth-pop backbeat and a sizable ten-person cast (Morgane Cadre, Thibault Dols, Clara Turcovich, Monia Zadri, Martial Dubois, Loic Pujol, Smiljana Kovacevic, Manon Sinaré, Sandra Barbaro and Guillaume Kadre). La Petite Famille, a French company comprised of youth from age 15 to 25, sent the production to this year’s Fringe from across the pond.
Unfortunately, much seems to have been lost in translation.
In broad strokes, the play follows the daily dramas of high school students, their teacher, and a couple of fathers who just don’t understand. Someone falls in love. Someone dies. The classroom teacher either moonlights as a stripper or shows up at the nightclub two sheets to the wind—in any case, she’s not wearing shoes and she seems both happy and mortified to run into her students there. And one character’s sister is a malfunctioning karaoke star who spontaneously performs Top 40 songs.
I’m using broad strokes, by the way, because unfortunately, only about 45 percent of what was said onstage was intelligible. Odd pronunciations, apparently mistranslated turns of phrase, some faulty body mics, and very thick (though very lovely) French accents make this a challenge to understand with any level of subtlety.
But the true problems with Tomorrow’s Dawn have little to do with the young cast and their aptitude for our language. The script appears to be a poor translation of a poorly written show. (Did someone actually utter “Your blue redness that looks like I like you,” or was that just what it sounded like?)
by Jeff Gallon
900 Massachusetts Ave NW
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There is no doubt the ten performers in the ensemble have talent. Morgane Cadre easily possesses one of the better singing voices in the bunch, and Mounia Zadri and Smiljana Kovacevic are exuberant dancers (even when the choreography does them a disservice). And all of them performed with energy and heart.
I applaud the efforts of these kids—learning a play in a foreign language (a musical, no less!) and traveling halfway across the globe to perform it is no small feat. But they’d be better served to invest their resources in a script editor and dialogue coach. Or, better still: Show us this production in its native tongue and make us read the captions.