Thursday, September 22, 2011

Recommended Theater: After

When I heard about the execution of Troy Davis, who may or may not have been guilty, I couldn't help but think about Partial Comfort's After. In Chad Beckim's play, Monty (Alfredo Narcisco), convicted of rape at the age of 17, is finally cleared by DNA evidence after serving 17 years in prison.

Although After raises questions about our justice system, it is (fortunately) not overtly political. Beckim tells a very human story of people just trying to get by. Director Stephen Brackett smartly takes things slow, even though the show runs only 90 minutes.

In a sense, all the characters are imprisoned. Monty lives with the only family he has left, his sister Liz (Maria-Christina Oliveras), a workaholic who has just as much starting over to do as her brother. Monty's co-worker at doggy day care, Warren (Debargo Sanyal, who plays him too much like a caricature), is forced to be there because his father is the owner, even though he would rather be programming computer games. After so many years in prison, Monty is incapable of making decisions for himself. On a trip to CVS, he is overwhelmed by the selection of toothbrushes until sales associate Susie (Jackie Chung) offers to help him. She is spunky and eager, providing much of the comic relief, but as their relationship evolves, she starts to reveal her insecurities.

Monty isn't much of a talker, but Narcisco reveals so much with his facial expressions--pain, confusion, joy. His performance as a 17-year-old trapped in a 34-year-old's body is heartbreaking.

Tickets are only $18, so you have no excuse not to see After at The Wild Project. For an even better deal, Wednesdays are pay what you can.

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