AFTERGLOW by S Asher Gelman. Southwark PLayhouse, London SE1 6BD. 2**. William Russell

By S Asher Gelman.
Southwark Playhouse, The Large, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD to 20 July 2019.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm Mat Tues & Sat 3pm.
Run 90 mins. No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234
Review: William Russell 11 June.

Off Broadway and off colour
This banal and dreary play apparently enjoyed a 14 month run off Broadway last year and productions round the globe have followed. On the evidence of this staging, although that is not to criticise the cast of three who bear the brunt of what the author has demanded baring all the while, it is hard to see why other than that acres of flesh are exposed, various homosexual acts are simulated at regular intervals and when in doubt about what to do showers get taken. The plot is the one about the cuckoo in the nest which duly upsets things there to the misfortune off all who reside in it.
Josh (Sean Hart) is a theatre director auditioning for a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. His husband Alex (Danny Mahoney) is an uptight chemist. They are affluent 35 year olds about to have a baby but their love life is a little stale and they enjoy bucking it up with adventures. We meet them in bed with Darius (Jesse Fox), a much younger man from the sticks, who works as a masseur. One thing leads to another, indeed to several and Josh, who is not the most sensitive of souls, falls for Darius, who is a needy child, and ends up paying his rent, while Alex simmers on the sidelines until even he can take no more and draws the line. It all ends sadly with Darius going back to from whence he came, the baby due any moment, and the marriage possibly on the rocks. The performances are good although the American accents wobble a bit. The cast shift the furniture here there and everywhere to take us from the marital bedroom to Darius’ massage parlour to the rooftop terrace Josh and Alex posses, and director Tom O’Brien keeps it all moving briskly if jumpily. But it is a silly play, has nothing worth saying about relationships, has dialogue which lurches from one cliché to the next without finding anything worth saying about the nature of love and betrayal of trust and predatory younger interlopers who destroy people’s lives without realising what they are doing so concerned are they with their own feelings. This is not an important addition to the catalogue of good gay plays, more a soft porn piece displaying the assets of the cast who undress with the alacrity of catwalk models.

Darius: Jesse Fox.
Josh: Sean Hart.
Alex: Danny Mahoney.
Director: Tom O’Brien
Designer: Libby Todd.
Lighting: David Howe.
Sound: Joel Price.
Movement Director: Lee Crowley.
Voice and Dialect Coach: Maeve Diamond.
Photography: Darren Bell.

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