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‘After’ Theatre Review: Too simplistic, overly conventional

What: AFTER Play    

Where: Havana Theatre, 1212 Commerical Drive    

When: March 25-29, April 1-5 at 8:00 p.m.

Sex. Dirty, raunchy, scream into the pillow sex. Sweet tender lovemaking that leaves one feeling romantic, sex. There are different ways of engaging in this taboo topic, but there is one certain aspect that takes place after sex that cannot be denied: The uncomfortable, emotional conversations couples try to engage in to figure out the next step in their relationship, or whatever they’re engaging in. But why after sex? Who knows; it could be the emotions that seem to skyrocket after getting freaky in the sheets. After does a good job of describing and visualizing what many in the audience have experienced after a sexy night, as each scene takes place in bed after a night of sex. But there was a lack of conclusion. Something was just off.  

The storyline between the couples is quite realistic: Sandra (Stefania Indelicato), a woman in her 30’s, is a typical character many women turn into: she’s realizing that her time to find love is soon coming to an end and she attempts to make a relationship come out of her sexual partnership with James (Al Miro), a typical, suave, sexy, full of himself character that has no time for love and just wants to bang because he can. There are some heartbreaking scenes between these two characters: when Sandra cuts off the relationship after realizing James true nature, but calls him back for a steamy night, still believing she can change him. James is unable to say that he loves her, even though she tells him she loves him over and over again, simply because he doesn’t love her. It’s all too true and tugs at our heartstrings.

Then come Jackie and Daniel. Jackie (Jane Hancock) is your average 20 year-old woman: she’s indecisive, and during her average long term relationship with Daniel (Matthew McLellan), a poor young simpleton who just can’t seem to catch a break, she convinces herself that she can do so much better than what Daniel provides her with, and starts sleeping around until she assures herself that she has found the “one” in, funny enough, James. She breaks things off with Daniel, assuming that James is the right type of sophistication she desires in life. But the audience knows too well how that relationship will turn out. And yet, that is where the audience is left. Sandra seems to have pulled herself together, Daniel is left in the dust, and Jackie and James will continue their “relationship” until either Jackie realizes James considers her only as a fuckbuddy or James realizes Jackie’s obsession with him and their fantasy relationship.

The actors dig well into their characters. One could only eye roll at James staring at himself in the mirror as he engages in sex with Sandra; the audience scoffed at Jackie’s announcement to Daniel that she can’t be with him anymore; one was moved to tears when Sandra began to realize her mission to “change” James failed, and that she was losing her chance at love with him; Daniel’s attempt at giving Jackie a gift was sweet and adorable, but one couldn’t help but feel sorry for him as Jackie dismissed the gift, inching further and further away from their relationship.

So, the characters were relatable, the acting was well done, and the storyline was an original concept. What was missing in this play, then? It seems to have all the trimmings to be spectacular. But it wasn’t. It lacked surprise. One assumed that Jackie was unsatisfied in her relationship and would move on to someone who, on the outside, embodied what she believed a man should be. It was obvious Sandra would eventually let go of James and their relationship. The story didn’t end romantically; it ended realistically, and that realism took away interest from the play. Maybe playwright Martha Herrera-Lasso wanted to convey the message of realness to the audience. But, if the audience wanted to experience real awkward, emotional conversations after sex, they would have gone home to their partners, not out to After

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