Afterglow at Southwark Playhouse
Afterglow, making its London debut at the Southwark Playhouse, portrays the complications of modern relationships as well as the bittersweetness of following your heart.
Written by S Asher Gelman and set in New York, the play portrays three men involved in an open relationship. Josh (Sean Hart) and Alex (Danny Mahoney) are a married couple who at first happily introduce Darius (Jesse Fox) into their union. However, Josh and Darius begin to develop deep feelings for one another and as jealousy sparks, what started as a consensual non-monogamous agreement turns into a ticking time bomb for heartbreak. With likeable characters and brilliant acting, it’s hard not to be engrossed in the emotional journeys of all three men.
The production alternates from light conversations between couples in well-lit rooms to steamy bedroom scenes. A noticeable feature of the piece is the loud thumping music in club-style transitions accompanied by flashing lights. But the downsides are largely forgettable in light of the rest of the show. Director Tom O’Brien and designer Libby Todd present unique visuals on stage with bodies and water. This changes a naturalistic drama that takes place mostly in comfortable flats into a performance with exciting stylised moments. These visuals portray the emotional subtext of the play and add to the sexual atmosphere, creating a gripping theatrical experience as story and stage come together.
Afterglow is 90 minutes of uncensored relationships, stunning visuals and likeable characters. Throughout the production, all is laid bare (literally in the case of scenes featuring nudity). Although about men, the show is not exclusively a gay story, tackling the universal moral dilemmas of relationships. The play is a commentary on how romantic interactions are changing in the “Tinder” era and how having so many potential partners means we may never be truly satisfied with who we choose. Everyone can emotionally relate to the central trio, and that is what makes this work so essential during a time in which people are still being discriminated against for who they love. Afterglow is a timely piece that delivers a mature understanding of matters of the heart in the 21st Century.
Photo: Darren Bell
Afterglow is at Southwark Playhouse from 5th June until 20th July 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.