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Stuart King

Review: AFTERGLOW at Waterloo East Theatre

Afterglow Following its critically successful opening at Southwark Playhouse, AFTERGLOW has just clocked-up its 100th sell-out performance and moved to Waterloo East Theatre SE1, where it will continue its limited London run, until 22nd Dec.

S Asher Gelman based his gay 3-hander on personal relationship experiences and as a consequence the interactions and verbal interplay strike a strong and credible chord with the largely gay male audience.

Married male couple Josh and Alex (Adi Chugh and Peter McPherson respectively) are expecting a baby via surrogacy. Long ago, they made a conscious decision to have an ‘open’ relationship, thereby accommodating dalliances of an intimate physical nature with other guys for whom they feel a mutual attraction. Enter Darius (Benjamin Aluwihare) who joins them for a night of passion. But what happens when the connection with another is so natural and compelling that one night doesn’t feel long enough? Such is the dilemma which faces the protagonists. And in determining the boundaries and limitations which should sensibly be dictated within a committed relationship, how can the participants avoid enslaving their partners when they begin to feel their coupledom threatened.

Prior to the start of the play, the intimate venue reminded me of the hushed expectation on first seeing BEAUTIFUL THING at the Donmar Warehouse back in 1994. AFTERGLOW neither aims for, nor quite attains the heady heights of innocent naivety or genuinely moving subtle intimacy which captivated so many theatregoers on that occasion (spawning transfers and a film). However, there are some beautifully realised and intense moments of a more mature nature which succeed in being both compelling and imbuing a sense of betrayal, complacency and jeopardy to proceedings. 

Directed by Steven Kunis on a neatly moveable and simple set by Libby Todd, The actors acquit themselves well enough in that NY fringe/US daytime tv earnest performance style which is just as well given that the play is set in Manhattan.

This is a play directed at a very specific audience, so if you identify, go along - but be mindful if you are squeamish about full frontal, buck naked, nudity!