After Life by Jack Thorne. The Dorfman, the National Theatre. 2**. William Russell

There are times one end up out on a limb and this is one such occasion. For me this tale of what happens after death was a complete waste of time. The stars are for the staging and the fact that the cast did well in the circumstances but for the rest it was tedium all the way for an hour and forty minutes as far as this National Theatre Headland production was concerned. With no interval one does not even have he escape route of leaving half way through although to do that would be unprofessional as one never knows, things could improve, except in this case they did not. Based on a film by Hirokazu Kore-eda we find outselves in the ante room to the hereafter where a group of guides are welcoming the new arrivals and explaining that they have a week in which to discover a happy memory to take them through to whatever lies ahead – the guides seem pretty incompetent, the new arrivals to consider what they are being asked ridiculous. June Watson does a nice turn as an aged spinster more concerned with what will happen to her cat if she has died alone as nobody will know – one guide helpfully points out pussy will have a handy supply of food, although one would have thought she might have had a cat flap if she lived in a house – and the young bolshie man (an impressive Olatunji Ayofe) refuses to have anything to do with the carry on, meanwhile one of the Guides is getting very uptight because one of the new arrivals played by Togo Igawa seems very familiar. It turns out that in life the Guide had lost a girlfriend before he died who went on to marry this man. In the end the Guide decides he can now move on to whatever comes next – this involves taking one’s shoes off and walking into the darkness – and guess who takes his place. The bolshie boy. By this time I had lost the will to live and would, had it been possible, have taken my shoes off and walked into the darkness. The set by Bunnie Christie, a wall of filing cabinets with drawers which sometimes open, and through which people can disappear, as well as a trapdoor mid stage spouting pink balloons and showers of rose petals falling from above, is interesting to look at but after a while that wears thin too.

Danielle Henry, Luke Thallon, Simon Startin, Millicent Wong, Kevin McMonagle.
The Guided
Obafemi Taylor: Olatunji Ayofe.
Youn Hirokazu Mochizuki/Henry Thompson: Ninu Furuhata.
Hill Smart/Young Beatrice: Maddie Holliday.
Hirokazu Mochizuki: Togo Igawa.
Katie Mochizuki: Anoushka Lucas.
Actor Harold/Graham Jenkions: Jack James Ryan.
Beatrice Killick: June Watson.

Director: Jeremy Herrin.
Set & Costume Designer: Bunny Austin.
Lighting Designer: Neil Austin.
Sound Designer: Tom Gibbons.
Movement Director: Shelley Maxwell.
Music: Orlando Weeks.

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