Remember to see Arts Club's incredibly moving Forget About Tomorrow

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Forget About Tomorrow | Arts Club Theatre Company | BMO Theatre Centre | March 1 – 25, 2018

It begins with small mistakes, absent-minded mishaps. Tom (Craig Erickson) is not himself and complains that his mind feels foggy. At first, his wife, Jane (Jennifer Lines), thinks it’s related to his anxiety for which he has been prescribed Cipralex, but Tom is not convinced.

Jill Daum, a member of the Mom’s the Word Collective, wrote this play after her husband, John Mann (of Spirit of the West fame) was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Incorporated into the play are some songs written by John. It’s partially autobiographical and entirely moving. Although Tom’s decline is enough to pull at the heartstrings, we see the story from Jane’s perspective as she struggles to come to terms with her 50-year-old husband gradually losing his mind.

Lines gives a wonderful, nuanced performance and her banter with friend and employer, Lori adds much-needed comic relief to the narrative. Lori (Colleen Wheeler) is a store owner who hates customers. But that’s where Jane comes in. Lori leaves Jane to take care of the day-to-day running of the business as she sweeps in every now and then to regale her with tales of her affair with a mysterious Persian man or ask for advice about whether it’s appropriate to ask for a coat back that she gave her ex-cleaning lady. Wheeler is fantastic in this role, and the fact that the two are friends in real life helps make their chemistry even more authentic.  

As Tom begins to decline and become forgetful, Jane becomes frustrated and the two fight often. Perhaps this is what drives Jane to omit the fact that she’s married when Wayne (Hrothgar Mathews), a charming, widowed grandpa, comes into the baby shop one day. The two flirt and he tells her about his upcoming trip to visit his new granddaughter in Ireland. When he comes back with a gift of “single malts for single people,” Jane doesn’t correct him.

The moment that Tom and Jane find out the diagnosis was extremely realistic. The two of them sit on the step outside and say “fuck” to each other over and over again. There are no words to describe the shock and range of emotions they are experiencing. It just doesn’t seem fair. As Lori says, “There are a lot of assholes who should get this, not Tom.” Jane becomes jealous of everyone else who isn’t going through this nightmare, and Tom just wants to prolong his time before everyone sees Alzheimer’s every time they look at him.

Daum’s writing is brilliant, with moments of pure sorrow such as Tom saying “I can forgive you for losing your mind if you’ll forgive me for losing mine,” and unexpected moments of laughter when Lori speaks her mind: “I know I’m being a cunt; I’ll get some perspective when I get a haircut.” With a versatile in-the-round set from Pam Johnson and beautiful projections by Candelario Andrade, the piece comes together in every way.  

Terrified and confused, Tom and Jane manage to come together, tell their kids about the diagnosis, and think about tomorrow even though it feels like there isn’t one. This play will leave you with a lump in your throat and a lot to think about, and it’s one of the most moving pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time. Don’t forget to go see it.     

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