After The End | new theatrePhotos - Bob Seary

The play opens with a deafening crash as the unimaginable is realised and a peace loving, democratic, capitalistically inclined city is reduced to nuclear waste. Somehow our protagonists, the eccentric ‘it’s for your own good’ Mark (Matthew Hyde) and the erratic but reasonable Louise (Katherine Hicks), manage to survive the blast and find refuge in Mark’s bomb shelter. Louise had been knocked out by the blast and Mark, somewhat heroically, carries her unconscious form to the safety of his ‘appropriately’ stocked sanctuary and informs her of their dire situation upon her regaining consciousness. What entails unfolds into an intense series of events where not only do the pressures of limited space, food and hope begins to erode the relationship between Mark and Louise, but also provides the audience with  an acute analogy for Western society and the climate of fear into which we’ve been thrust.

I found the opening of the play a little unsteady, with Hyde and Hicks struggling to invoke the dreadful reality of their situation, but it didn’t take them long to take control of the situation and draw the audience in. As the play progressed it was almost as though the theatre began to shrink, enhancing the claustrophobic conditions of the protagonists. Both Hyde and Hicks should be commended, once they grabbed the audience they formed a vice grip and didn’t let go until the curtain call. I found the character Mark to be a little one dimensional, but this was more of a flaw in the writing rather than Hyde’s ability or Luke Rogers’ direction, at times seeming more like a caricature than a person. This did provide some relief from the confronting reality of the protagonist’s situation, but came at the price of believability.

The content of the play is confronting, intense and often not pleasant to watch, but then that’s the point; to make you question society’s reaction to the concept of terror by forcing you to engage with the ugly reality of its many faces, and very much to Dennis Kelly’s style. I did however find some of the scenes later in the play a touch on the self-indulgent side of things on Kelly’s part. The horror (not only of the reality of the situation but more importantly the unfolding relationship between Mark and Louise) is set up beautifully with some very subtle yet powerful scenes, but as the play progresses Kelly appears to have felt the need to rub it in the audiences face to the point where it felt as though he was purely aiming for shock value. If you’ve seen any of Kelly’s plays before you’ll understand what I’m saying, otherwise it probably won’t be so obvious… I felt that a couple of the later ‘in-your-face’ scenes could have been dropped from the play without detracting from the show or performance and it would left the audience feeling shocked and questioning their opinion's on the subject or terror rather than feeling bludgeoned to death.

new theatre presents

by Dennis Kelly (Australian Premiere)

Venue: new theatre | 542 King Street Newtown
Dates: 29 August - 1 September
Times: Wednesday – Saturday @ 8pm
Tickets: $22 / $10 preview Tuesday 28 August
Bookings: 1300 306 776 /

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