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After Life - thoroughly recommended

After Life, The Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry, 4 - 11 February 2023.

Review by Sue Beech.

As we set off for an evening at the Criterion Theatre we were slightly daunted by the online reviews we had read - the piece sounded rather highbrow and inaccessible.

Nothing could have been further from the truth - this production was thoroughly entertaining as well as thought-provoking. Despite the underlying premise, the action takes place in 'a never-world between death and the afterlife' - a sparkling joie de vivre was frequently evident (or should that be ’joie de mourir’?)

A number of varied characters are supported by supposedly objective guides through a week during which they must select a single memory to take into the afterlife. All of them are brilliantly brought to life by the talented cast as their stories gradually emerge, including those of the guides.

The action is supported by projected scenes from their lives as well as ‘work in progress’ on the memories being constructed, especially effective in the scene where the elderly Beatrice (Dawn Morris) dances with her younger self on screen. Other dancing highlights included Number One’s solo number (Nick Doughlin excels) and Number Four’s angel number (Kelly Davidson at her most twinkly!)

The difficulties of selecting a single memory from one’s life are portrayed in different ways – Beatrice complains that this is not what she expected of death: “We wanted peace, not choice”; whereas Hari (Jon Elwes) agonises until the very last moment; and Obafemi (Ryan Morrison) just refuses to select any memory, as he has no memory that doesn’t involve him being ill.

The audio memories were a little difficult to decipher sometimes, but the various renditions of, “Is That All There Is?” were most effective. The black and white flickering ‘memories’ on screen proved a problem for my visually challenged companion, due to the low contrast, but overall the technology worked well.

This is a very professional production, both on stage and behind the scenes, and we thoroughly recommend it.


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