The Morning After The Life Before – Bewley’s Café Theatre – Review by Paddy McGovern
Feb 25 – Mar 16, 2019
The title of Ann Blake’s play, The Morning after the Life Before, refers to the mixture of exhaustion, elation, disbelief and sheer excitement that was the reaction of so many people, gay and straight alike, to the passing of the Marriage Equality referendum in May 2015.
Referring only briefly to the history of the whole campaign for homosexual rights starting in the late ‘sixties, Blake focuses on the development of the relationship between two women, the difficulties inherent in “coming out”, concerns about how it may affect friends and family and even the discovery of an element of internalised homophobia in a gay woman who hadn’t previously explored or questioned her own sexuality.
The performers, the author herself and Lucia Smyth, play several parts, from innocent kids in Limerick who wonder whether the canvassers are “with Willie O’Dea” to the main character’s father, whose conflict of feelings is rendered with understanding and empathy. Indeed, the play is mercifully free of lazy pot shots at political or religious targets or ‘No’ voters, instead concentrating on the lived experience of real people, in a way that most people can relate to, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Smyth and Blake change character with economy and conviction. They are engaging and charismatic, their characters all the more believable for being so natural, so normal.
There is humour and wit, warmth and humanity in the writing and performances are well judged. Under Paul Meade’s direction, changes of character or in time, as we range over different episodes in the women’s earlier life, are seamless in a well-judged, unfussy production.
The play is well worth its fifty minutes’ running time out of your busy day as it continues daily at 1 pm in Bewley’s Café Theatre, Grafton St until March 16th.