Tuesday, 22 October 2019

REVIEW: Afterglow at Waterloo East Theatre

After a successful run earlier this year at Southwark Playhouse, Afterglow has returned to London, this time with a new cast and new venue - Waterloo East theatre. It is worth noting that this play was running off Broadway and kept extending and extending due to popular demand and ended up grossing over $1m despite being in a 69 seat venue. A production that I also saw and loved. 

Afterglow is the story of a gay couple living in New York who have a somewhat open relationship. After they invite a third party in for a threesome and one of them begins to get feelings for him, things become very complicated. Whilst marketing as a show about gay sex, I completely disagree with this. I think it’s a show about relationships, love, trust, breaking trust, maturity, modern reality and ultimately, sacrifice. 

After seeing both the off Broadway production and the Southwark Playhouse production I think it has remained largely the same in terms of direction and design. 

The set, designed by Libby Todd remained the same from the Southwark Playhouse production but didn’t benefit from the thrust stage, which was a bit of a shame. However, my biggest critique of the previous production was how slow the scene changes were and how disengaging they were. This time though, the story carried on through the changes which made the flow of the entire piece A LOT smoother! 

The script, written by S. Asher Gorman is natural and conversational, allowing the audience to really relate to what is being said and really helps with the flow of the play. In parts, it can be slightly stiff. However, I think about 90% of this very small issue is due to the delivery of the material, more than the material itself. Benjamin Aluwhihare and Adi Chugh, as Darius and Josh, respectively, seemed to slight stumble over the lines in parts and really struggled with the American accent despite having a voice and dialect coach. It felt as though the accent was controlling them, which made it slightly disengaging at times.

Peter McPherson as Alex is absolutely fantastic. Everything about his
performance was flawless. His accent, delivery, emotional range, reactions and character arc. I could go on for ever with compliments. His comfortability with his body and the nudity in the show was also fantastic to see. Never did he allow a moment to become about the nudity or sexual content. It just so happened that he was fully naked during that particular moment of the characters life. 

Lighting and sound design were carbon copies of that production from Southwark Playhouse but still work well in the intimate venue.

This production of Afterglow is running until the 24th of November and I implore everybody to go and see it if they can. Don’t allow the marketing as being all about sex put you off. It really is a touching story. Even if you just go to see Peter McPherson - it’s worth it! 

Review by Lucas Wang 

Rating: ★★★ 

Seat: C7 | Price of Ticket: £30.00
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