Its been a while, but finally we are starting to see some hope for theatre. I have two shows booked which feels great but I have seen some online theatre during lockdown and I wrote a review/analysis for “Before After” at the Southwark Playhouse!
Before After is a two-hander musical written by Stuart Matthew Price and Timothy Knapman. It centres around Ben and Ami who meet on a hilltop by a tree, Ben has lost his memory in an accident so he does not recognise Ami. But Ami recognises him and is still in love with him…
The musical structure flips between before the accident and after the accident which has a similar feel to The Last Five Years written by Jason Robert Brown. Before After has a feel of a concept musical and a book musical at the same time ,similarly to The Last Five Years. We really get to know Ben and Ami. Their emotionally driven songs are written beautifully to expand their 3 Dimensional characters. Price and Knapman’s songs are rhythmically driven and with just 3 instruments: Piano, Cello and Guitar. Creating a textured and contemporary sound. The opening motif tips its hat to the opening motif of “Songs For A New World”. The Next Step/Three Long Months reminded me of “One Second and a Million Miles” from JRB’s Bridges Of Madison County. Both come at a big turn in the story, Ben is asking Ami to move in, Robert is asking Francesca to come with him. The book scenes feature naturalistic dialogue you would expect from Ben and Ami’s characters.
Ben is played brilliantly by Hadley Fraser. Ben’s character flips between before and after his accident so Hadley creates subtle character choices which distinguishes them both, for an example: his inflections on a spoken line. Rosalie Craig plays Ami stunnigly with a fascinating stillness to her character, she acts with her facial expressions and they are both very believable. When Ben and Ami are arguing you feel as an audience that you are intruding. It is intense and feels very accurate and the music elevates the emotion even more. They both have such great chemistry and you really root for both of them.
It did not feel like a rehearsed reading, Hadley and Rosalie hardly looked down to their music stand. It felt very raw and real. I really enjoyed the subtle glow of green lighting on the theatre seats to tell us that they’re on the hill and the artwork that happened in between scenes which told us the location of the scene. Similarly to Clara in “The Light In The Piazza” written by Adam Guettel. Ben is trying to recover from an accident and I think it is really important to have these subjects represented on stage.
Before After is a beautiful musical with so much heart. I would love to see it in the future as a full production. I wouldn’t want to lose its intimate feeling so a run at The Other Palace or The Large space in the Southwark Playhouse would work well. With Ben being an artist this could influence how the production looks and moves.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to message me on instagram @unofficialtheatre