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After The End

Dundee Rep
4 stars
It's a somewhat disarming experience seeing a second home-grown
production of Dennis Kelly's brutal two-hander within weeks of
Glasgow's Citizens theatre's own. Set in a nuclear fallout shelter
where Mark and Louise might just be the last two people alive following
an apparent apocalypse, Kelly's drama sets up an increasingly ugly
power-play between Mark's geeky outsider figure and his vivacious and
popular work-mate that is at times harrowing to watch.

Director Emma Faulkner takes the audience off-site to a concrete props
store that gives the action the gritty, grimy feel required and leaves
both actors with nowhere to hide. Pulsed by the low hum of Philip
Pinsky's sound design, things start quietly enough, as Tony McGeever's
Mark attempts to explain to Helen Darbyshire's Louise exactly what
happened before and after the blast. Before long, though, hidden
agendas come to the fore as it becomes clear that the game Mark is
playing is a whole lot more serious than the Dungeons and Dragons he
starves Louise into joining in with.

For all the play's nastiness, Faulkner has extracted subtle nuances in
the text that shine through a pair of unflinching performances.
Darbyshire in particular lends complexity and maturity to an
increasingly ambiguous set-up of seismic emotional shifts. If obsession
and the manipulative abuse of power is the play's main theme, there's
something going on here too about identity and being comfortable or
otherwise in you're own skin. By the end, and despite everything Louise
has survived, a disturbing unspoken empathy between the pair remains.
They've been through hell and back, it suggests, and no-one else on
earth can say the same.

The Herald, June 21st 2011

ends

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