If you could spend eternity with just one precious memory, what would it be?
"...this production was thoroughly entertaining as well as thought-provoking....brilliantly brought to life by the talented cast" Elementary Whatson
"the charm of this lovely, slow-burning and deeply poetical play...to have achieved so much for 11 distinct characters, and to have kept us enthralled throughout, is a small miracle of writing, acting and directing" Warwickshire World
Read the whole of the reviews here.
A group of strangers find themselves in a bureaucratic waiting room between life and death. Encouraged by enigmatic officials, they must sift through their past lives to choose their forever.
Adapted from Hirokazu Kore-eda's award-winning film, After Life is a surreal and powerfully human look at the way we view our lives, and a haunting meditation on what it is to live – and to die.
Written by Jack Thorne (Let the Right One In, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and for television, Help, Shameless, Skins, and This is England) After Life was first performed at the National Theatre, London, in June 2021.
In line with our EDI policy, we undertake an EDI impact assessment of all our artistic programming. ‘After Life’ has no specific diversity message within its narrative. The play can be cast with complete neutrality on race/ethnicity. Parts of its story lend themselves to gender, ethnicity and age specificity in certain roles but this could be open to artistic judgement permitting maximum flexibility to achieve the most diverse cast possible.
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 Elves) 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.
Nick Le Mesurier, Warwickshire World