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Published on Tuesday, 17 July 2012

3 starsUnderground Venues, Theatre
Run ended
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

Afterwords follows Julie, a 71-year-old who has just arrived in the afterlife to find herself in her 27-year-old body. Personal appearance, it seems, is determined by your age when you were the happiest – and for Julie, it’s her wedding day. It transpires that she has taken her own life in the hope of being reacquainted with her husband, but when everyone is in their own personal heaven – her father is 22 and her mother only 8 – it soon becomes apparent that for Julie, happiness might be just as unobtainable as it was on Earth.  

The cast are hard-working, but the complexities of their characters sometimes overwhelm them. The premise of an eternity at the age one was happiest is a strong one, but the script doesn’t quite reconcile Julie, who retains her 71 years of memories, with those who choose to live as children and seem not to remember their adult lives.

With such an expansive concept, the script has a lot to live up to, and can’t quite hit the mark. To truly tackle the ideas, Michael Hart should aim for a greater level of sophistication in the dialogue. Particularly with the characters who have been in the afterlife a long time, it might be interesting to see their more detached perspective come through, rather than matching the more emotionally intense experience of Julie, who is fresh to the world.

The all-white design has some nice touches, including a white bag of crisps, which ties the world together. The white set works well against the black box space, creating the sense of a blank canvas and a self-created paradise – which always seems to lie just beyond a door.

Afterwords creates a challenging world, asking interesting questions not only about the afterlife but also about the personal nature of human experience. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t quite do the metaphysics justice, but with further development there is the possibility that Organised Chaos could have a truly impressive theatre on their hands.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.