After(s) by Scott Mackie and Santino Smith
What is it?
After(s) is an original play written by the creative and eugenics duo Scott Mackie and Santino Smith. After(s) is the debut play from their theatre company, The Unemployed Actor's Union.
What is it about?
In short, After(s) is about the greatest after party you've ever been to. The show opens up to three young men at the end of house party; music blaring, lines of coke, empty bottles, and pink dressing gowns. Almost right away we learn that Andy and Yog are old mates who no longer know each other very well at all. Their friendship as they knew it is upturned by a spontaneous kiss. What does this mean? Well, there is no time to find out as Andy sets off for work, leaving Yog and a random DJ to enjoy the come down on their own. Shortly after, we learn that Andy lives in the flat with his girlfriend, Sarah, who knows nothing about the antics he got up to while she was away and would not be happy about it. Yog just really wants to understand the kiss, and everyone has forgotten about the DJ.
For comic relief, and life realisations, we meet a pizza delivery girl, Laura, who takes on the persona of Dolly, Yog's weird cousin from Texas. Sarah comes home too early, the apartment is still a mess, Yog is still in Sarah's pink dressing gown, Dolly is trying to keep her stories straight, and the DJ is still forgotten about in a wardrobe. Hilarity and heartbreak ensue as the three musketeers try to keep the party-truth from Sarah, all the while Yog and Andy are trying to discover who they are now. The play presents what is is like to grow up in today's world and culture and what happens to those of us who don't.
How did it make me feel?
There is something so special in the writing and the performance of this piece. Often in shows that involve drugs and alcohol, the creative team can go a bit over the top or be unrealistic. The team here manage to present a completely believable party scene that does not feel forced or over-acted. Mackie and Smith play Andy and Yog, respectively, with such honesty that it is extremely moving to witness them discover themselves throughout this short play.
Lucy Heath, who plays Sarah, represents so many young women in working cities today. She shows us that we are all struggling for that perfect life that we all think we want, or were at least told to want. Heath portrays Sarah with tenacity and a true vulnerability, which is showcased through her hilarious self-discovery while on MDMA.
Laura Singleton, who plays Dolly/Laura, does a wonderful job bringing in the absurd comedy with her anger management issues and love for Dolly Parton. Singleton brings the life affirming moments to light and in doing so she wins the hearts of the audience.
Additionally, there is so much for young adults to relate to in this piece that the characters do not feel foreign. We are very immersed in the story and can recognise ourselves or someone we know within all the characters on stage - again, another masterful job by Mackie and Smith.
It's fun, heartwarming, heartbreaking, hilarious, and absurd to just the right degree. The writing and performances meet somewhere in the middle of a Christopher Durang play and realistic theatre.
I like this show because it exemplifies the fact that all a person needs to create a work of art is solid, clever, honest writing, mixed with solid, clever, honest acting.
Make sure you can say, "I saw it first...". Catch this show now before it explodes.
After(s) is playing at The White Bear Theatre until the 8th February 2020.
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