After The End – The New Theatre – Review
Until Feb 24th
Louise (Maria Guiver) wakes up in a strange place. It is an underground nuclear bunker, a fallout shelter. The bunker is in Mark’s garden at the back of his house and he carried her there. The last thing she remembers she was at an office party and then everything went blank. Mark (Paul Livingstone) tells her a story of what he saw on the outside, a shocking vision of fire and charred bodies. He suspects some type of small nuclear device, a suitcase bomb. They are work colleagues but really they are from other ends of the social stratum. Louise is a glamorous and fun young woman and Mark is a bit of a nerd. He is the butt of many jokes and seems well aware of his place in the pecking order. They have to stay in the shelter for two weeks to allow the worst of the radiation to dissipate. It is a long time for two people who barely know each other to be stuck alone together but Mark has a solution; Dungeons and Dragons!
This is a play by British writer Dennis Kelly which was written in 2005. Kelly is best known for writing the BBC3 series Pulling along with actress Sharon Horgan, and also co-writing Matilda the Musical. This work does have a lot of comedy in the early stages but as the play progresses it takes a darker turn exploring sexual politics and violence. There is a warning outside the theatre that the play contains nudity and depictions of sexual violence and it is one of the most disturbing things I have seen on stage in Dublin in recent times.
Strangely for a play of this nature, it started life as a student production in the Lir with the same director and cast. Despite this there is nothing amateur about the production and the actors really embrace their parts. The two characters go on quite a journey over the course of the play and the civilized world seems quite remote from their isolated room.
The stage is also worthy of a mention with an impressive recreation of a nuclear bunker by set designer Jack Scullion. It gives the frame of the shelter complete with bunk beds and shelving. A ladder disappears into the heavens as the only means of escape. It does well to create the claustrophobic atmosphere required for the location.
This is a strong production of the play and is well developed. Due to the distressing nature of the events on display, it will not be to everyone’s taste, but it does open a dialogue on some very difficult topics. It is sharp and very funny at times but quite shocking at others. It’s up to the reader to decide if they are up to the challenge.
This show contains nudity, strong language and sexual violence. Suitable for ages 16+
First presented by Paines Plough and The Bush Theatre at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh on 5 August 2005
CAST AND CREATIVES
LOUISE | Maria Guiver
MARK | Paul Livingstone
DIRECTOR | Emily Foran
SET & COSTUME DESIGN | Jack Scullion
LIGHTING DESIGN | Cillian McNamara
SOUND DESIGN | Derek Conaghy
PRODUCER | Maria Guiver
PRODUCER | Emma Hanley